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FROM 802 TO 1509
The following pages contain information extracted from various
sources on the Internet and from other sources. The information has
been collected and collated for easier reading. No claim is made as to
the correctness of the information contained in the following pages and
the writer/collator Terry Mozley (terrymberko@ntlworld.com)
apologises for any inaccuracies that may be contained herein.


THE HOUSE OF MERCIA AND WESSEX ...............................................................2

HOUSE OF WESSEX...................................................................................................3
THE DANISH LINE....................................................................................................49
HOUSE OF WESSEX (RESTORED).........................................................................60
LADY GODIVA wife of Leofric of Mercia........................................................72
THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS...............................................................................78
NORMAN LINE..........................................................................................................80
THE WHITE SHIP DISASTER..........................................................................91
THE PLANTAGENET (ANGEVIN) LINE ...............................................................95
QUEEN ELEANOR, WIFE OF EDWARD THE FIRST..................................113
THE PLANTAGENET (LANCASTRIAN) LINE....................................................142
THE PLANTAGENET (YORKIST) LINE...............................................................156
THE HOUSE OF TUDOR.........................................................................................171


The Kingdom of Wessex was founded by Cerdic and Cynric who were chieftains of a
clan known as the Gewisse. They were said to have landed on the Hampshire coast
and conquered the surrounding area, including the Isle of Wight. However, the
specific events are in some doubt, and archaeological evidence points to a

considerable early Anglo-Saxon presence in the upper valley of the river Thames, the
Cotswolds and the area from The Wash along the Icknield Way. The centre of
gravity of Wessex in the late 6th and early 7th century seems to have lain farther to
the north than in later periods, following successful expansion to the south and west.
The Isle of Wight was settled not by Saxons but by Jutes, who also settled on the
Hampshire coast, where they were known as the Meonwara, and these areas were
only acquired by Wessex in the later 7th century.
The Kingdom of Mercia, usually referred to as Mercia was the other kingdom of the
Anglo-Saxons. The name Mercia is a Latinisation of the Old English Mierce or
Myrce, meaning border people. The Kingdom of Mercia was centred on the valley of
the River Trent and its tributaries, in the region now known as the English Midlands.
The kingdom's capital was the town of Tamworth, which was the seat of the Mercian
Kings from at least around AD 584, when King Creoda built a fortress at the town.

From around the year 800 to 1014 the Wessex Kings were on the throne of England.
This was in a period in English history known as the House of Wessex. The House of
Wessex started with Egbert in 802.


EGBERT (also spelled Ecgberht, Ecgbert or Ecgbriht; 769 or 771 839) was King
of Wessex from 802 until his death in 839. His father was Ealhmund of Kent. In the
780s Egbert was forced into exile by Offa of Mercia and Beorhtric of Wessex, but on
Beorhtric's death in 802 Egbert returned and took the throne of Wessex.

Little is known of the first 20 years of Egbert's reign, but it is thought that he was able
to maintain the independence of Wessex against the kingdom of Mercia, which at that
time dominated the other southern English kingdoms. In 825 Egbert defeated
Beornwulf of Mercia, and which ended Mercia's supremacy at the Battle of Ellandun.
Egbert then proceeded to take control of the Mercian dependencies in southeastern
England. In 829 Egbert defeated Wiglaf of Mercia and drove him out of his kingdom.
Egbert then began to rule Mercia directly. Later that year Egbert received the
submission of the Northumbrian king at Dore. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
subsequently described Egbert as a Ruler of Britain.
Egbert was unable to maintain this dominant position, and within a year Wiglaf
regained the throne of Mercia. Egbert did however, retain control of Kent, Sussex,
and Surrey; these territories were given to Egbert's son thelwulf to rule as a
sub-king under Egbert. When Egbert died in 839 and thelwulf succeeded him, the
southeastern kingdoms were finally absorbed into the kingdom of Wessex. Egbert's
wife's name is unknown. A fifteenth century chronicle now held by Oxford University
names Egbert's wife as Redburga, but this is dismissed by historians in view of its late
date He is reputed to have had a half-sister Alburga, later to be recognized as a saint
for her founding of Wilton Abbey. She was married to Wulfstan, ealdorman of
Wiltshire, and on his death in 802 she became a nun, Abbess of Wilton Abbey.
When Beorhtric of Wessex died in 802, and Egbert came to the throne of Wessex, it
was probably with the support of Charlemagne and perhaps also the papacy. The
Mercians continued with their opposition of Egbert and on the day of Egberts
accession, the Hwicce attacked Wessex. The Hwicce had originally formed a separate
kingdom, but at that time they were part of Mercia.
The Hwicce were under the leadership of thelmund.

Weohstan, a Wessex

ealdorman, met the attacking forces with men from Wiltshire. In the ensueing battle
the Hwicce were defeated. But Weohstan was killed as well as thelmund. Nothing
more is recorded of Egbert's relations with Mercia for more than twenty years after
this battle. It seems likely that Egbert had no influence outside his own borders, but
on the other hand there is no evidence that he ever submitted to the over-lordship of
Cenwulf. Cenwulf did have over-lordship of the rest of southern England, but in

Cenwulf's charters the title of overlord of the southern English never appears,
presumably in consequence of the independence of the kingdom of Wessex.

In 825 one of the most important battles in Anglo-Saxon history took place, when
Egbert defeated Beornwulf of Mercia at Ellendun, now Wroughton near Swindon.
This battle marked the end of the Mercian domination of southern England.
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle does not say who was the actual aggressor at Ellendun.
One historian however, asserts that Beornwulf was almost certainly the one who
attacked. Beornwulf's motivation to launch an attack would have been the threat of
unrest or instability in the southeast. The dynastic connections with Kent made
Wessex a threat to Mercian dominance. The consequences of Ellendun went beyond
the immediate loss of Mercian power in the southeast. According to the Chronicle, the
East Anglians asked for Egbert's protection against the Mercians in the same year.
In the year 826, Beornwulf invaded East Anglia. This was presumably to recover his
overlordship. However, Beornwulf was slain. Beornwulfs successor Ludeca, again
invaded East Anglia in 827, presumably for the same reason.
It may be that the Mercians were hoping for support from Kent, for there was some
reason to suppose that Wulfred, the Archbishop of Canterbury, might be discontented
with his West Saxon rulers, as Egbert had terminated Wulfred's currency and had
started to mint his own, at Rochester and Canterbury. It is known that Egbert seized
property belonging to the Archbishop of Canterbury. The outcome in East Anglia
however, was a disaster for the Mercians and which confirmed West Saxon power in
the southeast.

In 829 Egbert invaded Mercia and drove Wiglaf, the king of Mercia into exile. This
victory gave Egbert control of the London mint, and he then issued coins as King of
Mercia. It was after this victory that in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a West Saxon
scribe described Egbert as wide-ruler or Britain-ruler. Later in 829, according to the
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Egbert received the submission of the Northumbrians at
Dore, now a suburb of Sheffield. In 830, Egbert led a successful expedition against
the Welsh, almost certainly with the intent of extending West Saxon influence into the

Welsh lands that were previously within the Mercian orbit. The earlier half of the year
830 marked the high point of Egbert's reign.
Later in 830, Mercia regained its independence under Wiglaf. The most likely
explanation is that this was the result of a Mercian rebellion against Wessex rule.
Egbert's dominion over southern England therefore, came to an end with Wiglaf's
recovery of power.

Wiglaf's return to power in Mercia is evidenced by his

independence from Wessex, and Charters, indicate that Wiglaf had authority in
Middlesex and Berkshire. In a later charter of 836, Wiglaf uses the phrase "my
bishops, duces, and magistrates" to describe a group that included eleven bishops
from the episcopate of Canterbury, including bishops of sees in West Saxon territory.
It is significant that Wiglaf was still able to call together such a group of notables.
The West Saxons, even if they were able to do so, held no such councils. Wiglaf may
also have brought Essex back into the Mercian orbit. During the years after he
recovered the throne in East Anglia, the east anglian king thelstan minted coins.
This was possibly as early as 827, but is more likely to be around 830 after Egbert's
influence was reduced after Wiglaf's return to power in Mercia. This demonstration of
independence on East Anglia's part is not surprising, as it was thelstan who was
probably responsible for the defeat and death of both Beornwulf and Ludeca.
Both Wessex's sudden rise to power in the late 820s, and the subsequent failure to
retain this dominant position, have been examined by historians looking for
underlying causes. One plausible explanation for the events of these years is that
Wessex's fortunes were to some degree dependent on support from other areas. . The
Franks supported Eardwulf when he recovered the throne of Northumbria in 808, so it
is plausible that the Franks also supported Egbert's accession in 802. At Easter of 839,
shortly before his death, Egbert was in touch with Louis the Pious, the King of the
Franks, to arrange safe passage to Rome. Hence a continuing relationship with the
Franks seems to be part of southern English politics during the first half of the ninth
century. Support from the Franks may have been one of the factors that helped Egbert
achieve the military successes of the late 820s. However, the Rhenish and Frankish
commercial networks collapsed at some time in the 820s or 830s, and in addition, a
rebellion broke out in February 830 against Louis the Pious. This was the first of a
series of internal Frank conflicts that lasted through the 830s.

It was therefore

possibly these distractions may have prevented Louis from supporting Egbert. This

being the case, the withdrawal of Frankish influence would have forced East Anglia,
Mercia and Wessex to find a balance of power that was not dependent on outside aid.
Despite the loss of dominance, Egbert's military successes fundamentally changed the
political landscape of Anglo-Saxon England. Wessex retained control of the southeastern kingdoms, with the possible exception of Essex. And Mercia did not regain
control of East Anglia.

Egbert's victories marked the end of the independent

existence of the Kingdoms of Kent and Sussex. The conquered territories were
administered as a sub-kingdom for a while, including Surrey and possibly Essex.
Although Egberts son thelwulf was a sub-king under Egbert, it is clear that he
maintained his own royal household, with which he travelled around his kingdom.
Charters issued in Kent described Egbert and thelwulf as kings of the West Saxons
and also of the people of Kent. In the southwest, Egbert was defeated in 836 at
Carhampton by the Danes, but in 838 he won a battle against the Danes and their
allies, the West Welsh, at Hingston Down in Cornwall.

It is at this date in 836 that the independence of the last British kingdom may be
considered to have ended. The details of Anglo-Saxon expansion into Cornwall are
quite poorly recorded, but some evidence comes from place names. The river Ottery,
which flows east into the River Tamar near Launceston, appears to be a boundary.
South of the Ottery the place names are overwhelmingly Cornish, whereas to the
north they are more heavily influenced by the English newcomers.

At a council at Kingston upon Thames in 838, Egbert and his son thelwulf granted
land to the sees of Winchester and Canterbury in return for the promise of support for
thelwulf's claim to the throne.

The archbishop of Canterbury, Ceolnoth, also

accepted Egbert and thelwulf as the lords and protectors of the monasteries under
Ceolnoth's control. These agreements, along with a later charter in which thelwulf
confirmed church privileges, suggest that the church had recognized that Wessex was
a new political power that must be dealt with. Churchmen consecrated the king at

coronation ceremonies, and helped to write the wills which specified Egberts heir.
Their support had real value in establishing West Saxon control and a smooth
succession for Egbert's line. Both the record of the Council of Kingston, and another
charter of that year, include the following identical phrasing. a condition of the grant
is that we ourselves and our heirs shall always hereafter have firm and unshakable
friendships from Archbishop Ceolnoth and his congregation at Christ Church.
Nothing is known of any other claimants to the throne. It is likely however, that there
were other surviving descendants of Cerdic who might have contended for the
kingdom. Egbert died in 839, and his will, according to the account of it found in the
later will of his grandson Alfred the Great, left land only to male members of his
family. This was so that the estates should not be lost to the royal house through
marriage. Egbert's great wealth, which was acquired through conquest, was no doubt
one reason for his ability to purchase the support of the southeastern church

The thriftiness of his will however, indicates he understood the

importance of personal wealth to a king.

The kingship of Wessex had been frequently contested among different branches of
the royal line, and it is a noteworthy achievement of Egbert's that he was able to
ensure his son thelwulf's untroubled succession.

In addition, thelwulf's

experience of kingship, in the sub-kingdom formed from Egbert's southeastern

conquests, would have been extremely valuable to him when he took the throne.
Egbert was buried in Winchester, as were his son, thelwulf, his grandson, Alfred the
Great, and his great-grandson, Edward the Elder. During the ninth century,
Winchester began to show signs of urbanization, and it is likely that the sequence of
burials indicates that Winchester was held in high regard by the West Saxon royal
ETHELWULF, also spelled Aethelwulf or Ethelwulf; Old English: elwulf,
meaning Noble Wolf, was King of Wessex from 839 until his death in 858. He was
the only known child of King Egbert of Wessex. He conquered the kingdom of Kent
on behalf of his father in 825, and was sometime later made King of Kent as a subking to Egbert. He succeeded his father as King of Wessex on Egbert's death in 839,
at which time his kingdom stretched from the county of Kent in the east to Devon in
the west. Ethelwulfs eldest son thelstan became sub-king of Kent as a subordinate


Historians give conflicting assessments of thelwulf. According to one,

thelwulf had a worrying style of Kingship. He had come to the throne of Wessex by
inheritance. He proved to be intensely religious, cursed with little political sense, and
produced too many able and ambitious sons. To another, thelwulf seems to have
been a religious and un-ambitious man, for whom engagement in war and politics was
an unwelcome consequence of rank. However, yet another, thought that his reign has
been under-appreciated in modern scholarship, and that he laid the foundations for
Alfred the Greats success, finding new as well as traditional answers, and coping
more effectively with Scandinavian attacks than most contemporary rulers.
In 840, Ethelwulf fought at Carhampton against 35 ship companies of Danes, whose
raids had increased considerably. His most notable victory came in 851 at Acleah,
possibly Ockley in Surrey, or Oakley in Berkshire. Here, thelwulf and his son
thelbald fought against the heathen, and according to the Chronicle it was the
greatest slaughter of a heathen host ever made. Around 853, thelwulf and his sonin-law, Burgred, King of Mercia, defeated Cyngen ap Cadell of Wales and made the
Welsh subject to him The Chronicle depicts more battles throughout the years,
mostly against invading pirates and Danes. This was an era in European history when
nations were being invaded by many different groups; there were Saracens in the
south, Magyars in the east, Moors in the west, and Vikings in the north. During
thelwulf's reign, raiders had wintered on the Isle of Sheppey and pillaged at will in
East Anglia, and over the course of the next 20 years the struggles of Ethelwulfs sons
were to be ceaseless, heroic, and largely futile.

One of the first of thelwulf's acts as king was to split his kingdom. He gave the
eastern half, including Kent, Essex, Surrey, and Sussex, to his eldest son thelstan
(not to be confused with the later Athelstan the Glorious 925-940), and thelwulf
kept the ancient western side of Wessexwhich was Hampshire, Wiltshire, Dorset, and
Devon, for himself. thelwulf and his first wife, Osburh, had five sons and a
daughter. After thelstan came thelbald, thelbert, thelred, and Alfred. Each of

his sons, with the exception of thelstan, succeeded to the throne. thelwulf's only
daughter, thelswith, was married as a child to King Burgred of Mercia.
Religion was always an important part of thelwulf's life. As early as the first year of
his reign he planned a pilgrimage to Rome. Due to the ongoing and increasing raids
he felt the need to appeal to the Christian God for help against an enemy who was so
agile, numerous, and profane.

In 853, thelwulf sent his son Alfred, a child of

about four years, to Rome. In 855, about a year after the death of his wife Osburga,
thelwulf followed Alfred to Rome, where he was generous with his wealth. He
distributed gold to the clergy of St. Peter's and offered them chalices of the purest
gold and silver-gilt candelabra of Saxon work. During the return journey in 856 he
married Judith, a Frankish princess and a great-granddaughter of Charlemagne. She
was about 12 years old, the daughter of Charles the Bald, King of the West Franks.

Upon return to England in 856 thelwulf met with an acute crisis. His eldest
Ethelstan had died and his next eldest son, thelbald had devised a conspiracy with
the Ealdorman of Somerset and the Bishop of Sherborne to oppose thelwulf's
resumption of the kingship on his return. While thelwulf was able to muster
enough support to fight a civil war or to banish thelbald and his fellow conspirators,
he chose instead to yield western Wessex to his son Ethelbald. He himself retained
central and eastern Wessex. The absence of coins in thelbald's name suggests that
West Saxon coinage was in thelwulf's name until his death. Ethelwulfs actions in
respect to his sons demands, testifies to the fact that his Christian spirit did not
exhaust itself only in the giving of lavish charities to the Church. It also extended to
him sacrificing his own prestige and power in the cause of national peace.

The resumption of thelwulf as king included a special concession on behalf of

Saxon queens. The West Saxons previously did not allow the queen to sit next to the
king. In fact they were referred to not as a queen but merely as the wife of the king
This restriction was lifted for his Ethelwulfs new wife, Queen Judith. This probably
was because she was a high-ranking European princess. Ethelwulf died in 855 and
was buried first at Steyning and later re-interred in the Old Minster in Winchester. His


bones now rest in one of several mortuary chests in Winchester Cathedral. He was
succeeded by his son Ethelbald.


of Wessex or Ethelbald (Old English: elbald) was the

second of the five sons of King thelwulf of Wessex and Osburh. He was king of
Wessex from 858 to 860. He witnessed his father's charters as a kings' son in the
840s, and in 850 he received the rank of Ealdorman. In 855 he became Regent of
Wessex while his father, thelwulf was away visiting Rome, his elder brother
thelstan having died in 851 or shortly after. Ethelbalds younger brother thelbert
became sub-king of Kent.
thelwulf returned from Rome one year later, having taken as his second wife, the
Frankish King Charles the Bald's thirteen-year-old daughter Judith.
According to Alfred the Great's biographer. During thelwulf's absence in Rome
there may have been a plot hatched to prevent the king's return. The plot was either by
thelbald, or by Ealhstan, Bishop of Sherborne, and Eanwulf, Ealdorman of
Somerset. Or it may have been by all three. It is probable that thelbald was
involved in such a plot because of his father's marriage to Judith. The marriage of
Ethelwulf to a Frankish princess who had her own royal lineage could have produced
heirs more throne-worthy than thelbald. On Ethelwulfs return to England and to
avoid a civil war, thelwulf allowed thelbald to continue to rule Wessex or the
western part of Wessex, while he took Kent and the other eastern parts of the

Judith's charisma as a Frankish princess was so great that rather than lose the prestige
of her connection with the Franks when his father Ethelwulf died, Ethelbald his son
decided to marry her himself. This was in spite of strong clerical opposition, as
marriage to a widowed stepmother was considered incestuous. Little is known of
Ethelbalds reign and only one charter survives. The charter was witnessed by king


thelbald, sub king thelbert and Queen Judith. This suggests that he was on good
terms with his brother Ethelbert
thelbald died at Sherborne in Dorset on 20 December 860. He was childless and
was succeeded by his younger brother Ethelbert.

ETHELBERT was the third son of thelwulf of Wessex and his first wife, Osburh.
In 855 he became under-king of Kent while his father, thelwulf, visited Rome. His
brother thelbald was left in charge of the West Saxons. After his father's death in
858 his elder brother Ethelbald succeeded Ethelwulf as king of Kent and the other
eastern parts of the kingdom. When thelbald died childless in 860, the kingship of
the West Saxons also passed to thelberht. During the reign of Ethelbert the Danes
returned and soon after his accession a Danish army landed either via the Thames or
on the south coast and advanced as far as Winchester before two contingents of
Ethelbert's Saxons defeated them.
Towards the end of his reign a more organized Danish force arrived under the
command of Ragnar Lodbrok. His fleet had been attacking the east coast of England,
particularly Northumbria, and in the winter of 864/5 they stayed in Thanet. Although
the Saxons made a pact with them, the Danes plundered east Kent, before advancing
back up the east coast.
Ethelbert died in 866 .He was childless and was succeeded by his younger brother

ETHELRED I sometimes rendered as Ethelred, (c. 837 871) was King of Wessex
from 866 to 871. He was the fourth son of King thelwulf of Wessex. He succeeded
his brother, thelberht (Ethelbert), as King of Wessex and Kent in 865.
In 853 his younger brother Alfred went to Rome, and according to contemporary
references Ethelred accompanied him. He first witnessed his father's charters as
theling in 854, and he kept this name until he succeeded to the throne in 866. He
may have acted as an under-king as early as 862. In 862 and 863 he issued charters as


King of the West Saxons. This must have been as deputy or in the absence of his elder
brother King thelberht, as there is no record of conflict between them and he
continued to witness his brother's charters as a king's son in 864.
In the same year as thelred's succession as king, a great Viking army arrived in
England, and within five years they had destroyed two of the principal English
kingdoms, Northumbria and East Anglia. In 868 thelred's brother-in-law, Burgred
the King of Mercia, appealed to him for help against the Vikings. thelred and his
younger brother, the future Alfred the Great, led a West Saxon army to Nottingham,
but there was no decisive battle, and Burgred bought off the Vikings. Later in 874 the
Vikings defeated Burgred and drove him into exile.
In 870 the Vikings turned their attention to Wessex, and on 4 January 871 at the
Battle of Reading, thelred suffered a heavy defeat. Although he was able to re-form
his army in time to win a victory at the Battle of Ashdown, he suffered further defeats
on 22 January at Basing, and 22 March at Meretun.

In about 867, thelred effectively established a common currency between Wessex

and Mercia by adopting the Mercian type of lunette penny, and coins minted
exclusively at London and Canterbury then circulated in the two kingdoms.
Ethelreds wife was probably called Wulfthryth. A charter of 868 refers to Wulfthryth
the Queen. It was rare in ninth century Wessex for the king's wife to be given the title
queen, and it is only definitely known to have been given to thelwulf's second wife,
Judith of Flanders.

Ethelred had two known sons, thelhelm and thelwold

thelwold later disputed the throne with Edward the Elder after Alfred the greats
death in 899.
thelred died shortly after Easter on 15 April 871. He is buried at Wimborne Minster
in Dorset. In accordance with an agreement made between Ethelred and his younger
brother Alfred, Alfred succeeded him to the throne and became Alfred the Great. This
was despite the fact that Ethelred had two infant sons Ethelhelm and Ethelwold.
When Ethelwold later came of age he made a claim for the throne.


ALFRED THE GREAT (849 26 October 899) was King of Wessex from 871 to
899. Alfred successfully defended his kingdom against the Viking attempt at a
conquest, and by the time of his death had become the dominant ruler in England He
is the only English monarch to be accorded the epithet "the Great". Alfred was the
first King of the Wessex Saxons to style himself "King of the Anglo-Saxons". Alfred's
reputation has been that of a learned and merciful man who encouraged education and
improved his kingdom's legal system and military structure. Alfred was born in the
village of Wanating, now Wantage in Oxfordshire. He was the youngest son of King
thelwulf of Wessex, by his first wife, Osburh.
In 853, at the age of four, Alfred is said to have been sent to Rome where, according
to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, he was confirmed by Pope Leo IV who "anointed him
as king". Victorian writers later interpreted this as an anticipatory coronation in
preparation for his ultimate succession to the throne of Wessex. However, his
succession could not have been foreseen at the time, as Alfred had three living elder
brothers. The story may be based on Alfred having later accompanied his father on a
pilgrimage to Rome where he spent some time at the court of Charles the Bald, King
of the Franks. This was around the year 854855.
On their return from Rome in 855, King thelwulf was partly deposed by his son
thelbald, and with civil war looming, the magnates of the realm met in council to
hammer out a compromise, which was; thelbald the son would retain and rule the
western shires of Wessex, and thelwulf his father would rule in the east. When
Ethelwulf died later in 855, the whole of Wessex was ruled by Ethelbald (855-860).
When Ethelbald died, Wessex was rued by Ethelbert (860-866,) and then when
Ethelbert died, Wessex was ruled by Ethelred (866-871.

During the short reigns of the older two of his three elder brothers, thelbald of
Wessex and thelberht of Wessex, Alfred is not mentioned. In 865 an army of
Danes which the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle described as the Great Heathen Army had
landed in East Anglia with the intent of conquering the four kingdoms that constituted
Anglo-Saxon England. It was with the backdrop of a rampaging Viking army coupled
with the accession of his third brother, thelred of Wessex, in 866, that Alfred's
public life began to be recorded,


It is during this period that Bishop Asser applied to Alfred the unique title of
"secundarius", which may indicate a position akin to that of a recognised successor
and one who is closely associated with the reigning monarch. It is possible that this
arrangement was sanctioned by Alfred's father; to guard against the danger of a
disputed succession should one or another of his sons fall in battle. The arrangement
of crowning a successor as royal prince and military commander is well known
among other Germanic tribes, such as the Swedes and Franks, to whom the AngloSaxons were closely related.
In 868, Alfred is recorded as fighting beside thelred in an unsuccessful attempt to
keep the Great Heathen Army led by Ivar the Boneless out of the adjoining Kingdom
of Mercia. At the end of 870, the Danes arrived in Alfreds homeland of Wessex. The
year which followed has been called "Alfred's year of battles". He fought nine
engagements with varying outcomes, though the place and date of two of these battles
have not been recorded. In Berkshire, a successful skirmish at the Battle of Englefield
on 31 December 870 was followed by a severe defeat at the siege and Battle of
Reading by Ivar's brother Halfdan Ragnarsson on 5 January 871. Four days later, the
Anglo-Saxons won a brilliant victory at the Battle of Ashdown on the Berkshire
Downs, possibly near Compton or Aldworth. Alfred is particularly credited with the
success of this latter battle. Later that month, on 22 January, the English were
defeated at the Battle of Basing. They were defeated again on 22 March at the Battle
of Merton (perhaps Marden in Wiltshire or Martin in Dorset). King thelred died
shortly afterwards on 23 April 871 at which time Alfred succeeded to the throne of
Wessex despite the fact that thelred left two under-age sons, thelhelm and
This was in accordance with the agreement that thelred and Alfred had made earlier
that year when the brothers had agreed that whichever of them outlived the other he
would inherit all the personal property that King thelwulf had left jointly to his sons
in his will.

The children of the deceased brother would receive only whatever

property and riches their father had settled upon them and whatever additional lands
their uncle had acquired. The unstated premise was that the surviving brother would
be King. Given the ongoing Danish invasion and the youth of his nephews, Alfred's
succession probably went completely uncontested.


In 871 while he was busy with the burial ceremonies for his brother, the Danes
defeated the English. This was in Alfreds absence, at an unnamed spot, and then
another defeat by the Danes, but this time in Alfreds presence at Wilton in May. The
defeat at Wilton smashed any remaining hope that Alfred could drive the invaders
from his kingdom. He was therefore forced instead to make peace with them. Sources
however, do not tell what the peace terms were The Viking army however, did
withdraw from Reading in the autumn of 871 to take up winter quarters in London
which was part of Mercia. Alfred probably also paid the Vikings cash to leave, much
as the Mercians were to do in the following year. Relics dating to the Viking
occupation of London in 871/2 have been excavated at Croydon, Gravesend, and
Waterloo Bridge. These finds hint at the cost involved in making peace with the
Vikings. For the next five years, the Danes occupied other parts of England
In 876 under a new leader Guthrum, the Danes slipped past the English army and
attacked and occupied Wareham in Dorset. Alfred blockaded them but was unable to
take Wareham by assault. Accordingly, he negotiated a peace which involved an
exchange of hostages and oaths, which the Danes swore on a "holy ring" associated
with the worship of Thor The Danes, however, broke their word and, after killing all
the hostages, slipped away under cover of night to Exeter in Devon. Alfred blockaded
the Viking ships in Devon, and with a relief fleet having been scattered by a storm,
the Danes were forced to submit. The Danes eventually withdrew into Mercia
In January 878, the Danes made a sudden attack on Chippenham, a royal stronghold
in which Alfred had been staying over Christmas the Danes killed almost everyone,
but King Alfred escaped the massacre. With a little band of supporters Alfred made
his way to Somerset, and after Easter they made a fort at Athelney in the marshes of
Somerset. From this fort at Athelney, which was on an island in the marshes near
North Petherton, Alfred was able to mount an effective resistance movement, and
succeeded in rallying the local militias from Somerset, Wiltshire and Hampshire.
A popular legend, originating from 12th century chronicles, tells how when he first
fled to the Somerset Levels, Alfred was given shelter by a peasant woman who,
unaware of his identity, left him to watch some cakes she had left cooking on the fire.
Preoccupied with the problems of his kingdom, Alfred accidentally let the cakes burn.

In the seventh week after Easter [410 May 878], around Whitsuntide, Alfred rode to
'Egbert's Stone' east of Selwood, where he was met by the people of Somerset and
Wiltshire and of that part of Hampshire which is on this side of the sea (that is, west
of Southampton Water. Alfred's emergence from his marshland stronghold was part


of a carefully planned offensive. This indicated that not only had the king retained the
loyalty of the people. His nobles had also maintained their positions of authority in
these localities and they were able to enlist local people to answer Alfreds summons
to war.
Alfred won a decisive victory in the ensuing Battle of Edington which may have been
fought near Westbury, Wiltshire. He then pursued the Danes to their stronghold at
Chippenham and starved them into submission. One of the terms of the surrender was
that Guthrum their king was to convert to Christianity. Three weeks later the Danish
king and 29 of his chief men were baptised at Alfred's court at Aller, near Athelney,
with Alfred receiving King Guthrum as his spiritual son.
Eight days later at the royal estate at Wedmore in Somerset, Guthrum fulfilled his
promise to leave Wessex. There is no contemporary evidence that Alfred and
Guthrum agreed upon a formal treaty at this time; the so-called Treaty of Wedmore is
an invention of modern historians. The Treaty of Alfred and Guthrum, preserved in
Old English in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge and in a Latin compilation known
as Quadripartitus, was negotiated later, perhaps in 879 or 880, when King Ceolwulf
the second of Mercia was deposed
The later treaty of Alfred and Guthrum divided up the kingdom of Mercia. By its
terms the boundary between Alfred's and Guthrum's kingdoms was to run up the
River Thames, to the River Lea; follow the Lea to its source (near Luton); from there
extend in a straight line to Bedford; and from Bedford follow the River Ouse to
Watling Street

In other words, Alfred succeeded to Ceolwulf of Mercias kingdom, consisting of

western Mercia; and Guthrum incorporated the eastern part of Mercia into an enlarged
kingdom of East Anglia (henceforward known as the Danelaw). By terms of the
treaty, Alfred was to have control over the Mercian city of London and its mints. The
disposition of Essex, which had been held by West Saxon kings since the days of
Egbert, is unclear from the treaty. Given Alfred's political and military superiority
however, it would have been surprising if Alfred had conceded any disputed territory
to his new godson Guthrum.
With the signing of the Treaty of Alfred and Guthrum, an event most commonly held
to have taken place around 880 when Guthrum's people began settling East Anglia.


Guthrum was no longer a threat. In accordance with this agreement the Danish army
left England, boarded long boats and sailed to Ghent.
Alfred however, was still forced to contend with a number of minor Danish threats. A
year later in 881 Alfred fought a small sea battle against four Danish ships. Two of
the ships were destroyed and the others surrendered to Alfred's forces. In the year
883, though there is some debate over the year, there was a raid taking place in Kent,
in England, and during the year 885, there was quite possibly the largest raid since the
battles with Guthrum. Asser's account of the raid places the Danish raiders at the
Saxon city of Rochester, where they built a temporary fortress in order to besiege the
city. In response to this incursion, Alfred led an Anglo-Saxon force against the Danes
who, instead of engaging the army of Wessex, fled to their beached ships and sailed to
another part of Britain. The retreating Danish force supposedly left Britain the
following summer. Not long after the failed Danish raid in Kent, Alfred dispatched
his fleet to East Anglia. The purpose of this expedition is debated, though Asser
claims that it was for the sake of plunder. After travelling up the River Stour, the fleet
was met by Danish vessels that numbered 13 or 16 (sources vary on the number) and
a battle ensued. The Alfreds Anglo-Saxon fleet emerged victorious and laden with
spoils. The victorious fleet was then caught unaware when attempting to leave the
River Stour and they were attacked by a Danish force at the mouth of the river. The
Danish fleet was able to defeat Alfred's fleet which may have been weakened in the
previous engagement.
A year later, in 886, Alfred reoccupied the city of London and set out to make it
habitable again. Alfred entrusted the city to the care of his son-in-law thelred, of
Mercia. The restoration of London progressed through the latter half of the 880s and
is believed to have revolved around a new street plan, added fortifications in addition
to the existing Roman walls, and, some believe, the construction of matching
fortifications on the south bank of the River Thames.
King Alfred, because of his support and his donation of alms to Rome, received a
number of gifts from Pope Marinus. Among these gifts was reputed to be a piece of
the true cross of Jesus, this was a true treasure for the devout Saxon king. Also and
according to Asser, because of Pope Marinus' friendship with King Alfred, the pope
granted an exemption from any tax or tribute, to any Anglo-Saxons residing within
This is also the period in which almost all chroniclers agree that the Saxon people of
pre-unification England submitted to King Alfred. This was not, however, the point at
which Alfred came to be known as King of England; in fact he would never adopt that


title for himself. In truth, the power which Alfred wielded over the English peoples at
this time seemed to stem largely from the military might of the West Saxons, Alfred's
political connections from having the ruler of Mercia as his son-in-law, and Alfred's
keen administrative talents.
Between the restoration of London and dealing with the resumption of large scale
Danish attacks in the early 890s, Alfred's reign was rather uneventful. The relative
peace of the late 880s was marred by the death of Alfred's sister, thelswith, who
died en route to Rome in 888. In the same year the Archbishop of Canterbury,
thelred, also died. One year later in 889 Guthrum, or Athelstan as he was known by
his Christian baptismal name, who was Alfred's former enemy and King of East
Anglia died. He was buried in Hadleigh, Suffolk. Guthrum's passing marked a
change in the political sphere because his death created a power vacuum which would
stir up other powerhungry warlords eager to take his place in the following years.
The quiet years of Alfred's life were coming to a close, and war was on the horizon.

After another lull, in the autumn of 892 or 893, the Danes attacked once again.
Finding their position in mainland Europe precarious, they had crossed to England in
330 ships in two divisions. The larger division became entrenched at Appledore,
Kent, and the lesser division at Milton, also in Kent. The invaders had brought their
wives and children with them, which indicated they were making a meaningful
attempt at conquest and colonisation. Alfred, in 893 or 894, took up a position from
where he could observe both Danish forces. The Danes at Appledore eventually
broke out and struck northwestwards. They were overtaken by Alfred's eldest son,
Edward, and they were defeated in an engagement at Farnham in Surrey. The Danes
took refuge on an island at Thorney, on Hertfordshire's River Colne, where they were
blockaded and ultimately forced to submit. The Danish force fell back on Essex, and
they again suffered another defeat at Benfleet.
Alfred had been on his way to relieve his son at Thorney when he heard that the
Northumbrian and East Anglian Danes were besieging Exeter and an unnamed
stronghold on the North Devon shore. Alfred at once hurried westward and sieged
Exeter. The fate of the unnamed place is not recorded. Meanwhile, the Danish force
under Hastein set out to march up the Thames Valley, possibly with the idea of
assisting their friends in the west. But they were met by a large force led by the three
great ealdormen of Mercia, Wiltshire and Somerset, and they forced to head off to the
northwest, being finally overtaken and blockaded at Buttington. Some identify this
with Buttington Tump at the mouth of the River Wye, others with Buttington near
Welshpool. An attempt to break through the English lines was defeated. Those who

escaped retreated to Shoebury. Then, after collecting reinforcements, they made a

sudden dash across England and occupied the ruined Roman walls of Chester. The
English did not attempt a winter blockade, but contented themselves with destroying
all the supplies in the district. Early in 894 (or 895), want of food obliged the Danes
to retire once more to Essex. At the end of this year and early in 895 (or 896), the
Danes drew their ships up the River Thames and River Lea and fortified themselves
twenty miles north of London. A direct attack on the Danish lines failed but, later in
the year, Alfred saw a means of obstructing the river so as to prevent the egress of the
Danish ships. The Danes realised that they were out-maneuvered. They struck off
north-westwards and wintered at Cambridge near Bridgnorth. The next year, 896 (or
897), they completely gave up the struggle. Some retired to Northumbria, some to
East Anglia. Those who had no connections in England withdrew back to the
The history of battle failures preceding the success of 878 emphasised to Alfred that
the traditional system of battle he had inherited, played to the Danes' advantage.
While both the Anglo-Saxons and the Danes attacked settlements to seize wealth and
other resources, they employed very different strategies.
In their raids, the Anglo-Saxons traditionally preferred to attack head-on by
assembling their forces in a shield wall, advancing against their target and
overcoming the oncoming wall marshaled against them in defense. In contrast, the
Danes preferred to choose easy targets, mapping cautious forays designed to avoid
risking all their accumulated plunder with high-stake attacks for more. Alfred
determined the Danish strategy was to launch smaller scaled attacks from a secure and
reinforced defensible base to which they could retreat should their raiders meet strong

With his understanding of the Danish battle strategy, Alfred capitalised on the
relatively peaceful years immediately following his victory at Edington, by focusing
on an ambitious restructuring of his kingdom's military defenses. On a trip to Rome,
Alfred had stayed with Charles the Bald and it is possible that he may also have
studied how the Carolingian kings had dealt with the Viking problem, and learning
from their experience was able to put together a system of taxation and defense for his
own kingdom. Also, there had been a system of fortifications in pre-Viking Mercia
that may have also been an influence. So when the Viking raids resumed in 892,
Alfred was much better prepared to confront them with a standing mobile field army,
a network of garrisons, and a small fleet of ships navigating the rivers and estuaries.


Alfred also tried his hand at naval design. In 896 he ordered the construction of a
small fleet, perhaps a dozen or so long ships, that, at 60 oars, were twice the size of
Viking warships. This was not, as the Victorians asserted, the Birth of the English
Navy. Wessex had earlier possessed a royal fleet, King Athelstan of Kent and
Ealdorman Ealhhere had defeated a Viking fleet in 851, and Alfred himself had
conducted naval actions in 882
Alfred did however have sea power in mind. He figured that if he could intercept
raiding fleets before they landed, he could spare his kingdom from ravaging. Alfred's
ships were superior in conception. In practice however, they proved to be too large to
manoeuver in the close waters of estuaries and rivers, which were the only places in
which a naval battle could occur. The warships of the time were not designed to be
ship killers but troop carriers. The sea battles would entailed a ship coming alongside
an enemy vessel, at which point the crew would lash the two ships together before
they boarded the enemy craft. The result was effectively a land battle involving handto-hand fighting on board the two lashed vessels. In the one recorded naval
engagement in the year 896, Alfred's new fleet of nine ships intercepted six Viking
ships in the mouth of an unidentified river along the south of England. The Danes had
beached half their ships, and gone inland, either to rest their rowers or to forage for
food. Alfred's ships immediately moved to block their escape to the sea. The three
Viking ships afloat attempted to break through the English lines. Only one made it;
Alfred's ships intercepted the other two. Lashing the Viking boats to their own, the
English crew boarded the enemy's vessels and proceeded to kill everyone on board.

The one ship that escaped managed to do so only because all of Alfred's heavy ships
became grounded when the tide went out. What ensued was a land battle between the
crews of the grounded ships. The Danes were heavily outnumbered, and would have
been wiped out if the tide had not risen. When that occurred, the Danes rushed back to
their boats, which being lighter, and with shallower drafts, were freed before Alfred's
ships. Helplessly, the English watched as the Vikings rowed past them.
Alfred died on 26 October 899. How he died is unknown, although he suffered
throughout his life with a painful and very unpleasant illness. His biographer Asser
gave a detailed description of Alfred's symptoms and this has allowed modern doctors
to provide a possible diagnosis. It is thought that he either had Crohn's disease or


haemorrhoidal disease. His grandson King Edred also seems to have suffered from a
similar illness.
Alfred was originally buried temporarily in the Old Minster in Winchester, then, four
years after his death, he was moved to the New Minster (perhaps built especially to
receive his body). When the New Minster moved to Hyde, a little north of the city, in
1110, the monks transferred to Hyde Abbey along with Alfred's body and those of his
wife and children. Soon after the dissolution of the Abbey in 1539, during the reign of
Henry VIII, the church was demolished, leaving the graves intact. The royal graves
and many others were probably rediscovered by chance in 1788 when a prison was
being constructed by convicts on the site. Coffins were stripped of lead, and bones
were scattered and lost. The prison was demolished between 1846 and 1850. Further
excavations in 1866 and 1897 were inconclusive. However, in 1866 an amateur
antiquarian John Mellor recovered a number of bones from the site which he claimed
were those of Alfred. These later came into the possession of the vicar of nearby St
Bartholomew's Church, who reburied them in an unmarked grave in the church
A 1999 archeological excavation of the Hyde Abbey site uncovered the foundations
of the abbey buildings and some bones. Bones suggested at the time to be those of
Alfred proved instead to belong to an elderly woman.

In March 2013, the Diocese of Winchester exhumed the bones from the unmarked
grave at St Bartholomew's and placed them in secure storage. The Diocese made no
claim they were the bones of Alfred, but intended to secure them for later analysis.
The bones were subsequently radiocarbon dated, but the results showed that they were
from the 1300s and therefore unrelated to Alfred. However, it was announced in
January 2014 that a fragment of pelvis unearthed in the 1999 excavation of the Hyde
site that had subsequently lain in a Winchester museum store room, had been
radiocarbon dated to the correct period. It has been suggested that this bone may
belong to either Alfred or his son Edward, but this remains unproved.
A statue of Alfred the Great, situated in Wantage market place, was sculpted by Count
Gleichen, a relative of Queen Victoria's, and unveiled on 14 July 1877 by the Prince
and Princess of Wales. The statue was vandalised on New Year's Eve of 2007, losing


part of its right arm and axe. After the arm and axe were replaced the statue was again
vandalised on Christmas Eve of 2008, once more losing its axe.
When Alfred the Great died he was succeeded to the throne by his son Edward who
became Edward the Elder

EDWARD THE ELDER (c. 874877 17 July 924) was an English king. He
became king in 899 upon the death of his father, Alfred the Great. His court was at
Winchester, previously the capital of Wessex. He captured the Eastern Midlands and
East Anglia from the Danes in 917 and also became ruler of Mercia in 918 upon the
death of thelfld, his sister.
All but two of his charters give his title as "King of the Anglo-Saxons". He was the
second king of the Anglo-Saxons as this title was created by his father Alfred the
Great. Edward's coinage reads EADVVEARD REX. Chroniclers record that all
England accepted Edward as King in the year 920. But the fact that York continued
to produce its own coinage suggests that Edward's authority was not accepted in
Viking ruled Northumbria.


Edward was the second surviving child and the elder son born to Alfred the Great and
his Mercian queen, Ealhswith. Edward's birth cannot be dated with certainty. His
parents married in 868 and his eldest sibling a daughter thelfld, was born soon
afterwards, (she married in 883). Edward was probably born rather later, in the 870s,
and probably between 874 and 877. Asser's Life of King Alfred reports that Edward
was educated at court together with his youngest sister lfthryth. His second sister,
thelgifu, was intended for a life in religion from an early age, perhaps due to ill
health, and later became the Abbess of Shaftesbury. The youngest sibling,
thelweard, was educated at a court school where he learned Latin. This suggests
that he too was intended for a religious life. Edward and his sister lfthryth,
however, while they learned the English of the day, they received a courtly education,
and Asser refers to them taking part in the pursuits of this present life which are
appropriate to the nobility..

The first appearance of Edward is in 892, in a charter granting land at North Newnton,
near Pewsey in Wiltshire, to ealdorman thelhelm, where Edward is called the king's
son. Although he was the reigning King's elder son, Edward was not certain to
succeed his father. Until the 890s, the obvious heirs to the throne were thelwold and
thelhelm, who were the sons of thelred. Ethelred was Edwards Uncle and Alfred
the Greats older brother. thelwold and thelhelm were around ten years older
than Edward. thelhelm disappeared from view in the 890s, presumed dead, but a
charter from that decade shows thelwold witnessing before Edward, and the order
of witnesses is generally believed to relate to their status. As well as his greater age
and experience, thelwold may have had another advantage over Edward where the
succession was concerned. While Alfred's wife Ealhswith was never described as
Queen and was never crowned, thelwold and thelhelm's mother Wulfthryth was
called Queen.


When Alfred died, Edward's cousin thelwold, the son of King thelred of Wessex,
rose up to claim the throne and began thelwold's Revolt. He seized Wimborne, in
Dorset, where his father was buried, and Christchurch (then in Hampshire, now in
Dorset). Alfreds son Edward, marched to Badbury and offered battle, but thelwold
refused to leave Wimborne. As Edward was preparing a morning attack on
Wimborne, thelwold left Wimborne in the night, and joined the Danes in
Northumbria, where he was announced as King. In the meantime, Edward was
crowned on 8 June 900, possibly at Kingston upon Thames.
In 901, thelwold came with a fleet to Essex, and encouraged the Danes in East
Anglia to rise up. In the following year he attacked English Mercia and northern
Wessex. Edward retaliated by ravaging East Anglia, but when he retreated south the
men of Kent disobeyed the order to retire, and were intercepted by the Danish army.
The two sides met at the Battle of the Holme on 13 December 902. According to the
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the Danes "kept the place of slaughter", but they suffered
heavy losses. Deaths on the Danish side including thelwold and a King Eohric,
possibly of the East Anglian Danes.
Relations with the North proved problematic for Edward for several more years. The
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle mentions that he made peace with the East Anglian and
Northumbrian Danes. There is also a mention of the regaining of Chester in 907,
which may be an indication that the city was taken in battle.

In 909, Edward sent an army to harass Northumbria. In the following year, the
Northumbrians retaliated by attacking Mercia, but they were met by the combined
Mercian and West Saxon army at the Battle of Tettenhall, where the Northumbrian
Danes were destroyed. From that point, they never again raided south of the River
Edward then began the construction of a number of fortresses at Hertford, Witham
and Bridgnorth. He is also said to have built a fortress at Scergeat, but that location
has not been identified. This series of fortresses kept the Danes at bay. Other forts
were built at Tamworth, Stafford, Eddisbury and Warwick. These fortresses were
built to the same specifications as those built within the territory that his father had
controlled; it has been suggested on this basis that Edward actually built them all.


Edward extended the control of Wessex over the whole of Mercia, East Anglia and
Essex, conquering lands occupied by the Danes and bringing the residual autonomy of
Mercia to an end in 918. Soon a
After the death of his sister, thelfld. thelfld's daughter, lfwynn, was named
as her successor in Mercia, but Edward deposed her, bringing Mercia under his direct
control. He had already annexed the cities of London and Oxford and the surrounding
lands of Oxfordshire and Middlesex in 911.
The first half of the tenth century was critical in the development of the shire as the
principal administrative unit in England, and Edward was probably responsible for
shiring Mercia and the eastern Danelaw. By 918, all of the Danes south of the
Humber had submitted to him, and by the end of his reign, the Norse, the Scots and
the Welsh had acknowledged him as "Father and Lord". This recognition of Edward's
over-lordship in Scotland led to the claims of his successors' over that Kingdom.
Edward reorganized the Church in Wessex, creating new bishoprics at Ramsbury and
Sonning, Wells and Crediton. Despite this, there is little indication that Edward was
particularly religious. In fact, the Pope delivered a reprimand to him to pay more
attention to his religious responsibilities.
Edward the Elder died leading an army against a Welsh-Mercian rebellion, on 17 July
924 at Farndon-Upon-Dee, and he was buried in the New Minster in Winchester,
Hampshire, which he himself had established in 901. After the Norman Conquest, the
minster was replaced by Hyde Abbey to the north of the city and Edward's body was
transferred there. His last resting place is currently marked by a cross-inscribed stone
slab within the outline of the old abbey marked out in a public park.

Edward the Elder had four siblings, including thelfld, Lady of the Mercians, and
lfthryth, Countess of Flanders.
Edward the Elder had about fourteen children from three marriages (or according to
some sources, an extramarital relationship and two marriages).
Edward the Elder first married Ecgwynn around 893. Conflicting information is given
about her by different sources. Their children were
The future King Athelstan (c.893 939)
A daughter who married Sihtric Cech, Viking king of York
In 899, Edward married lffld, a daughter of thelhelm, the ealdorman of
Wiltshire. Their children were


Eadgifu (902 after 955), who married Charles the Simple

lfweard of Wessex (904924), whose death occurred 16 days after
Edward's. Later sources sometimes portray him as Edward's successor, at least in
part of the kingdom.
Eadgyth (910946), who married Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor
Eadhild, who married Hugh the Great, Duke of the Franks and Count of Paris
lfgifu who married "a prince near the Alps", sometimes identified with
Conrad of Burgundy or Boleslaus II of Bohemia or Boleslaus I, Duke of Bohemia
Eadfld, who became a nun
Edwin of Wessex

Edward married for a third time, about 919, to Eadgifu, the daughter of Sigehelm, the
ealdorman of Kent. Their children were

The future king Edmund (922946)

The future king Eadred (died 955)
Saint Edburga of Winchester (died 960)
Eadgifu, married "Louis, Prince of Aquitaine", whose identity is disputed, as
is the very existence of this daughter.

Eadgifu outlived her husband and her sons, and was alive during the reign of her
grandson, King Edgar. It is also claimed that Edward's second wife, lffld, was also
alive after Edward's death, but only one known source is for that claim.
On his death in 924 Edward the Elder was succeeded by his eldest son by his first
wife, who became King Athelstan
ETHELSTAN or Athelstan (c. 893/895 27 October 939) was King of the AngloSaxons from 924 to 927 and King of the English from 927 to 939. He was the son of
King Edward the Elder and his first wife, Ecgwynn. Historians regard him as the first
King of England and one of the greatest Anglo-Saxon kings. He never married, and he
was eventually succeeded by his half-brother, Edmund.
When Edward died in July 924, thelstan was accepted by the Mercians as king. His
half-brother lfweard may have been recognised as King in Wessex, but he died
within weeks of their father. However, thelstan still encountered resistance in
Wessex for several months, and he was not crowned until September 925. In 927 he
conquered the last remaining Viking Kingdom of York, making him the first AngloSaxon ruler of the whole of England. In 934 he invaded Scotland and forced King


Constantine of Scotland to submit to him. thelstan's rule was however, resented by

the Scots and Vikings and in 937 they invaded England. thelstan defeated them at
the Battle of Brunanburh, a victory which gave him great prestige both in the British
Isles and on the Continent. Later and after Ethelstans death in 939 the Vikings seized
back control of York, and it was not finally re-conquered until 954.
thelstan centralised government; he increased control over the production of
charters and summoned leading figures from distant areas to his councils. These
meetings were also attended by rulers from outside his territory, especially Welsh
kings, who thus acknowledged his over-lordship. More legal texts survive from his
reign than from any other tenth-century English king. They show his concern about
widespread robberies, and the threat they posed to social order. His legal reforms built
on those of his grandfather, Alfred the Great. thelstan was one of the most religious
of West Saxon kings, and was known for collecting relics and founding churches. His
household was the centre of English learning during his reign, and it laid the
foundation for the Benedictine monastic reform later in the century. No other West
Saxon king played as important a role in European politics as thelstan, and he
arranged the marriages of several of his sisters to continental rulers.

The coronation of thelstan took place on 4 September 925 at Kingston upon

Thames, perhaps due to its symbolic location on the border between Wessex and
Mercia He was crowned by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Athelm, who probably
designed or organised a new religious order of service in which for the first time the
king wore a crown instead of a helmet.
thelstan became the first king of all the Anglo-Saxon peoples, and in effect he was
King of Britain. thelstan tried to reconcile the aristocracy in his new gained
territory of Northumbria. He lavished gifts on the minsters of Beverley, Chester-leStreet, and York, emphasising his Christianity. He also purchased the vast territory of
Amounderness in Lancashire, and gave it to the Archbishop of York, who was his
most important lieutenant in that region. But in spite of his efforts, he remained a

resented outsider, and the northern British kingdoms preferred to ally with the pagan
Norse of Dublin. In contrast to his strong control over southern Britain, his position in
the north was far more tenuous.
In 934 thelstan invaded Scotland. His reasons are unclear, and historians give
alternative explanations. The death of his half-brother Edwin in 933 may have finally
removed factions in Wessex opposed to his rule. Guthfrith, the Norse king of Dublin
who had briefly ruled Northumbria, died in 934; any resulting insecurity among the
Danes may have given thelstan an opportunity to stamp his authority on the north.
thelstan set out on his campaign in May 934, accompanied by four Welsh kings:
Hywel Dda of Deheubarth, Idwal Foel of Gwynedd, Morgan ap Owain of Gwent, and
Tewdwr ap Griffri of Brycheiniog. His retinue also included eighteen bishops and
thirteen earls, six of whom were Danes from eastern England. By late June or early
July he had reached Chester-le-Street, where he made generous gifts to the tomb of St
Cuthbert, including a stole and maniple (ecclesiastical garments) originally
commissioned by his step-mother lffld as a gift to Bishop Frithestan of
Winchester. The invasion was launched by land and sea. According to the twelfthcentury chronicler Simeon of Durham, his land forces ravaged as far as Dunnottar in
north-east Scotland, while the fleet raided Caithness, then probably part of the Norse
kingdom of Orkney. No battles are recorded during this campaign, and chronicles do
not record its outcome. By September, however, Ethelstan was back in the south of
England at Buckingham,

In 934 Olaf Guthfrithson succeeded his father Guthfrith as the Norse King of Dublin.
The alliance between the Norse and the Scots was cemented by the marriage of Olaf
to Constantine's daughter. By August 937 Olaf had defeated his rivals for control of
the Viking part of Ireland, and he promptly launched a bid for the former Norse
Kingdom of York. Individually Olaf and Constantine were too weak to oppose
thelstan, but together they could hope to challenge the dominance of Wessex. In
the autumn they joined with the Strathclyde Britons under Owain to invade England.
Medieval campaigning was normally conducted in the summer, and thelstan can
hardly have expected an invasion on such a large scale so late in the year. Presumably
because of this he seems to have been slow to react and an old Latin poem preserved
by William of Malmesbury accused him of having "languished in sluggish leisure".
The Norse and Scots allies plundered the north-west while thelstan took his time


gathering a West Saxon and Mercian army. However, Michael Wood praises his
caution, arguing that unlike Harold in 1066, he did not allow himself to be provoked
into action. When he did march north, the Welsh did not join him, and they did not
fight on either side.
The two sides met at the Battle of Brunanburh, resulting in an overwhelming victory
for thelstan, who was supported by his young half-brother, the future King Edmund
the first. Olaf escaped back to Dublin with the remnant of his forces, while
Constantine lost a son. The English also suffered heavy losses, including two of
thelstan's cousins, sons of Edward the Elder's younger brother, thelweard.
According to historian Michael Livingston:
It would be no small stretch to consider the battle the moment when Englishness
came of age. The men who fought and died on that field forged a political map of the
future that remains with us today, arguably making the Battle at Brunanburh one of
the most significant battles in the long history not just of England but of the whole of
the British Isles
thelstan died at Gloucester on 27 October 939. His grandfather Alfred, his father
Edward, and his half-brother lfweard had all been buried at Winchester, but
thelstan chose not to honour the city because it was associated with opposition to
his rule. By his own wish he was buried at Malmesbury Abbey, where he had buried
his cousins who died at Brunanburh. No other member of the West Saxon royal
family was buried there. His bones were lost during the Reformation, but he is
commemorated by an empty fifteenth-century tomb.

After Ethelstans death, the men of York immediately chose the Viking king of
Dublin, Olaf Guthfrithsson, as their king, and Ethelstans control of the north,
seemingly made safe by his previous victory of Brunanburh collapsed. The following
reigns of his half-brothers Edmund (939946) and Eadred (946955) were therefore
largely concerned with regaining control.
On King Athelstans death in 939 he had no children and he was succeeded by his
half brother Edmund who became King Edmund the Magnificent


EDMUND 1 (c 921 26 May 946), called the Elder, the Deed-doer, the Just, or the
Magnificent, was King of England from 939 until his death. He was a son of Edward
the Elder and half-brother of Athelstan. Athelstan died on 27 October 939, and
Edmund succeeded him as king.
Edmund came to the throne as the son of Edward the Elder, grandson of Alfred the
Great, great-grandson of Ethelwulf of Wessex, great-great grandson of Egbert of
Wessex and great-great-great grandson of Ealhmund of Kent. Shortly after his
proclamation as king in 939, he had to face several military threats. King Olaf III
conquered Northumbria and had invaded the Midlands, and Olaf had then died. In
942, Edmund the Magnificent re-conquered the Midlands. In 943, Edmund became
the god-father of King Olaf of York. In 944, Edmund was successful in reconquering Northumbria. In the same year, his ally Olaf of York lost his throne and
left for Dublin in Ireland. Olaf became the king of Dublin as Olaf Cuaran and
continued to be allied to Edmund, his god-father. In 945, Edmund conquered
Strathclyde but ceded the territory to King Malcolm I of Scotland in exchange for a
treaty of mutual military support. Edmund thus established a policy of safe borders
and peaceful relationships with Scotland. During his reign, the revival of monasteries
in England began.

One of Edmund's last political movements of which there is some knowledge is his
role in the restoration of Louis IV of France to the throne. Louis, son of Charles the
Simple and Edmund's half-sister Eadgifu had resided at the West-Saxon court for
some time until 936, when Louis returned to be crowned King of France. In the
summer of 945, Louis was captured by the Norsemen of Rouen and subsequently
released to Duke Hugh the Great, who held him in custody. Edmund King of the
English, sent messengers to Duke Hugh about the restoration of King Louis, and the
Duke accordingly made a public agreement with his nephews and other leading men
of his kingdom. Hugh, Duke of the Franks, allying himself with Hugh the Black, son
of Richard, and the other leading men of the kingdom, restored the kingdom to King
Louis 1V.


On 26 May 946, Edmund was murdered by Leofa an exiled thief. This was while he
was attending St Augustine's Day mass in Pucklechurch (South Gloucestershire).
John of Worcester and William of Malmesbury add some lively detail by suggesting
that Edmund had been feasting with his nobles, and he spotted Leofa in the crowd.
Edmund attacked the intruder in person, but in the event, Leofa killed Edmund Leofa
was also killed on the spot by those present
Edmund the magnificent was succeeded as king by his brother Edred, who became
king from 946 until 955. Edmund the magnificents sons later ruled England as:
Eadwig of England was King of England from 955 until 957, and King of Wessex and
Kent, from 957 until his death on 1 October 959.
Edgar of England, was King of Mercia and Northumbria from 957 until his brother's
death in 959, and then king of England from 959 until 975.

EADRED (also Edred, etc.) was the king of England from 946 until his death in 955.
He succeeded to the throne on the death of his elder brother Edmund I.

Eadred was a son of Edward the Elder by his third marriage, to Eadgifu, daughter of
Sigehelm, ealdorman of Kent. He succeeded his elder brother King Edmund the first
who was stabbed to death at Pucklechurch (Gloucestershire), on St Augustine's Day,
26 May 946. The same year, on 16 August, Eadred was consecrated by Archbishop
Oda of Canterbury at Kingston upon Thames, where he appears to have received the
submission of Welsh rulers and northern earls.


Eadred soon faced a number of political challenges to the West-Saxon territories in

the north. Unfortunately, there are some notorious difficulties with the chronology of
the events described in the historical sources, but it is clear that there were two
Scandinavian princes who set themselves up as Kings of Northumbria.
lf Sihtricson, otherwise known as Amlab Cuarn, had been King of Northumbria
in the early 940s when he became Edmund's godson, but he was later driven out. He
then succeeded his cousin as King of Dublin, but after a heavy defeat in battle in 947,
he was once again forced to try his luck elsewhere. Shortly thereafter, Olaf was back
in business, having regained the kingdom of York. What Eadred thought of the matter
or how much sympathy he bore for his brother's godson can only be guessed at, but it
seems that he at least tolerated Olaf's presence. In any event, Olaf was ousted from the
Kingship a second time by the Northumbrians, this time it was in favour of Eric who
was the son of Harald. The other player in the game was Eric 'Bloodaxe', previously
king of Norway. After a number of successful operations elsewhere, he came to
Northumbria and appears at some point to have set himself up as King
King Eadred responded harshly to the northern defectors by launching a destructive
raid on Northumbria, which notably included burning the Ripon minster founded by
St. Wilfrid. Although his forces sustained heavy losses in the Battle of Castleford (as
he returned home), Eadred managed to check his rival by promising the latter's
supporters even greater havoc if they did not desert the foreign prince. The
Northumbrians appeased the English king and paid compensation.

Towards the end of his life, Eadred suffered from a digestive malady which would
eventually prove fatal. Eadred is said to have sucked out the juices of his food,
chewed on what was left and spat out the residue. Eadred died on 23 November (St.
Clement's Day), 955, at Frome (Somerset), and was buried in the Old Minster at
Winchester. He died a bachelor, and was succeeded by Eadwig who was the eldest
son of his brother Edmund, the previous King.


EADWIG more rarely Edwy (941? 1 October 959), sometimes nicknamed AllFair or the Fair, was King of England from 955 until his death four years later. The
eldest son of King Edmund and lfgifu of Shaftesbury, Eadwig was chosen by the
nobility to succeed his uncle Eadred as King. His short reign was marked by ongoing
conflicts with his family, and especially the Church, under the leadership of Saint
Dunstan and Archbishop Odo.
According to one legend, the feud with Saint Dunstan began on the day of Eadwig's
consecration. This was when Eadwig failed to attend a meeting of nobles. When
Dunstan eventually found the young monarch, he was cavorting with a noblewoman
named thelgifu and refused to return with the bishop. Infuriated by this, Dunstan
dragged Eadwig back and forced him to renounce the girl as a "strumpet". Later
realizing that he had provoked the king, Dunstan fled to the sanctuary of his cloister,
but Eadwig, incited by thelgifu, followed him and plundered the monastery. Though
Dunstan managed to escape, he refused to return to England until after Eadwig's
The account of the quarrel with Dunstan and Cynesige, the Bishop of Lichfield at the
coronation feast is recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and in the later chronicles
of John of Worcester and was written by monks supportive of Dunstan's position. The
"cavorting" in question consisted of Eadwig then only 16 being away from the feast
with lfgifu and her mother thelgifu. Eadwig later married lfgifu, who seems to
have been the sister of thelweard the Chronicler. thelweard describes himself as
the "grandson's grandson" of King thelred I. Eadwig was the son of King Edmund
the Magnificent, grandson of King Edward the Elder, great-grandson of King Alfred
the Great, and therefore great-great-nephew of King thelred I. Eadwig and lfgifu
were therefore third cousins once removed.
The annulment of the marriage of Eadwig and lfgifu is unusual in that it was against
their will. It was clearly politically motivated by the supporters of Dunstan. The
Church at the time regarded any union within seven degrees of incestuousnesss. This
was reduced to four degrees in 1215. At the time, the number of degrees was reached
by counting up to the common ancestor and back: a second cousin would have been
related within the sixth degree.

Dunstan, whilst in exile, became influenced by the Benedictines of Flanders. A proDunstan, pro-Benedictine alliance began to form in Athelstans domain of East
Anglia. This alliance supported Eadwig's younger brother Edgar.


Frustrated by the king's impositions and supported by Archbishop Odo, the Thanes of
Mercia and Northumbria switched their allegiance to Eadwig's brother Edgar. In 957,
rather than see the country descend into civil war, the nobles agreed to divide the
kingdom along the Thames, with Eadwig keeping Wessex and Kent in the south and
Edgar ruling in the north.

Eadwig is known for his remarkable generosity in giving away land. In 956 alone, his
sixty odd gifts of land make up around 5% of all genuine Anglo-Saxon charters. No
known ruler in Europe matched that yearly total before the twelfth century, and his
gifts are plausibly attributed to political insecurity.
Eadwig died at a young age in 959, and in circumstances which remain unknown. He
was succeeded by his younger brother Edgar the Peaceful, who reunited the kingdom.

EDGAR THE PEACEFUL, or Edgar I (c.7 August 943 8 July 975), also called
the Peaceable, was king of England from 959 to 975. Edgar was the younger son of
Edmund I. Edgar is regarded as the first ruler of a consolidated England.
Edgar was the son of Edmund I and Elfgiva, thus making him the grandson of Edward
the elder, great-grandson of Alfred the Great, great-great grandson of Ethelwulf of
Wessex, great-great-great grandson of Egbert of Wessex. Upon the death of King
Edmund in 946, Edgar's uncle, King Edred ruled until 955. Edred, in turn was
succeeded by his nephew, Edmund's son and Edgar's older brother Eadwig.
The Peaceable, was not necessarily a comment on the deeds of his life, for he was a
strong leader, as shown by his seizure of the Northumbrian and Mercian kingdoms
from his brother in 958. A conclave of nobles held Edgar to be king north of the


Thames With the death of Eadwig in October 959, Edgar consolidated his holdings in
Wessex ,which were previously held by his brother.

One of Edgar's first actions was to recall Dunstan from exile and have him made
Bishop of Worcester and subsequently Bishop of London and later, Archbishop of
Canterbury. Dunstan remained Edgar's advisor throughout his reign. While Edgar
may not have been a particularly peaceable man, his reign was peaceful. The
Kingdom of England was well established, and Edgar consolidated the political unity
achieved by his predecessors. By the end of his reign, England was sufficiently
unified in that it was unlikely to regress back to a state of division among rival
kingships, as it had to an extent under the reign of Eadred The Monastic Reform
Movement that restored the Benedictine Rule to England's undisciplined monastic
communities peaked during the era of Dunstan,

In 963 Edgar the Peaceful reputedly killed his rival in love, Earl thelwald. The
deed was commited near present-day Longparish, Hampshire, and is an event that was
commemorated in 1825 by the erection of Dead Man's Plack.

Dead Man's Plack

is a Grade-II listed 19th-century monument to Earl

Ethelwald of Wherwell, who was allegedly killed by his rival in love King Edgar the
Peaceful, in 963 near the site in Longparish Hampshire where the monument stands.

Edgar was crowned at Bath and anointed with his wife lfthryth. This set a
precedent for a coronation of a Queen in England. Edgar's coronation however, did
not take place until fourteen years into his reign in 973. And instead of being an
initiation ceremony it was a ceremony at the culmination of his reign. This was a
move that must have taken a great deal of preliminary diplomacy. Edgars coronation
service was devised by Dunstan himself and it forms the basis of the present-day
British coronation ceremony.
The symbolic coronation was a very important step, and the other kings of Britain
came and gave their allegiance to Edgar shortly afterwards at Cheste when Six kings
in Britain, including the King of the Scots and the King of Strathclyde, pledged their
faith that they would be the king's liege-men on sea and land.


Edgar died on 8 July 975 at Winchester and was buried at Glastonbury Abbey. He left
two sons, the elder named Edward, who was most likely his illegitimate son by
thelfld, and thelred, the younger, the child of his wife lfthryth.
It was Edward succeeded him to the throne.
From Edgars death until the Norman Conquest, there was not a single succession to
the throne that was not contested. Some see Edgars death as the beginning of the end
of Anglo-Saxon England, followed as it was by three successful 11th century
conquests, two Danish and one Norman.

EDWARD THE MARTYR (c. 962 18 March 978) was king of the English from
975 until he was murdered in 978. Edward was the eldest son of King Edgar but was
not his father's acknowledged legitimate heir. On Edgar's death, the leadership of
England was contested, with some supporting Edward's claim to be king and others
supporting his much younger half-brother thelred the Unready. Ethelred was
recognized as the legitimate son of Edgar while Edward was suspected of being the
illegitimate son of Edgar. It was Edward however, who was eventually chosen as king
and was crowned by his main clerical supporters, the archbishops Dunstan and
Oswald of Worcester.
The great nobles of the kingdom, lfhere and thelwine, quarreled, and civil war
almost broke out. In the so-called anti-monastic reaction, the nobles took advantage of


Edward's weakness to dispossess the Benedictine reformed monasteries of the lands

and other properties that King Edgar had granted to them.

Edward's short reign was brought to an end by his murder at Corfe Castle in
circumstances that are not altogether clear. His body was reburied with great
ceremony at Shaftesbury Abbey early in 980. In 1001 Edward's remains were moved
to a more prominent place in the abbey, probably with the blessing of his half-brother
King thelred. Edward was already reckoned to be a saint by this time.
A number of biographys of Edward were written in the centuries following his death
in which he was portrayed as a martyr, and generally seen as a victim of the Queen
Dowager lfthryth, mother of thelred. He is today recognized as a saint in the
Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Anglican
Edward's date of birth is unknown, but he was the eldest of Edgar's three children. He
was likely in his teens when he succeeded his father, who died at age 32 in 975
Edward was known to be King Edgar's son, but he was not the son of Queen
lfthryth, the third wife of Edgar. This much and no more is known from
contemporary charters.
Later sources of questionable reliability address the identity of Edward's mother. The
earliest such source is that Edward's mother was a nun at Wilton Abbey whom the
king seduced

A charter of 966 describes lfthryth, whom Edgar had married in 964, as the king's
lawful wife, and their eldest son Edmund as the legitimate son of the king. Edward is
noted to be the king's son. However, a genealogy created at Glastonbury Abbey circa
969 gives Edward precedence over Edmund and thelred. lfthryth was the widow
of thelwald, Ealdorman of East Anglia and perhaps Edgar's third wife. The
contradictions regarding the identity of Edward's mother, and the fact that Edmund
appears to have been regarded as the legitimate heir until his death in 971, suggest
that Edward was probably illegitimate.
Edmund's full brother thelred may have inherited his position as heir. On a charter
to the New Minster at Winchester, the names of lfthryth and her son thelred


appear ahead of Edward's name. When Edgar died on 8 July 975, thelred was
probably nine and Edward only a few years older.
The leaders were divided as to whether Edward or thelred should succeed Edgar.
Neither law nor precedent offered much guidance. The choice between the sons of
Edward the Elder had divided his kingdom, and Edgar's elder brother Eadwig had
been forced to give over a large part of the kingdom to Edgar. The Queen Dowager
certainly supported the claims of her son thelred, aided by Bishop thelwold; and
Dunstan supported Edward, aided by his fellow archbishop Oswald. It is likely that
Ealdorman lfhere and his allies supported thelred and that thelwine and his
allies supported Edward, although some historians suggest the opposite.
Later sources suggest that perceptions of legitimacy played a part in the arguments, as
did the relative age of the two candidates. In time, Edward was anointed by
Archbishops Dunstan and Oswald at Kingston upon Thames, most likely in 975.
There is evidence that the settlement involved a degree of compromise. thelred
appears to have been given lands which normally belonged to the king's sons, some of
which had been granted by Edgar to Abingdon Abbey and which were forcibly
repossessed for thelred by the leading nobles.

Edward, or rather those who were wielding power on his behalf, also appointed a
number of new ealdormen to positions in Wessex. Little is known of two of these
men, and it is difficult to determine which faction, if any, they belonged to. Edwin,
probably ruling in Sussex, and perhaps also parts of Kent and Surrey, was buried at
Abingdon, an abbey patronised by lfhere. thelmr, who oversaw Hampshire,
held lands in Rutland, perhaps suggesting links to thelwine. The third ealdorman,
thelweard, today best known for his Latin history, ruled in the west. thelweard
was a descendant of King thelred of Wessex and probably the brother of King
Eadwig's wife. He appears to have been a supporter of Edward rather than of either
In some places, the secular clergy who had been driven from the monasteries
returned, driving the regular clergy out in their turn. Bishop thelwold had been the
main enemy of the seculars, and Archbishop Dunstan appears to have done little to

aid his fellow reformer at this time. More generally, the magnates took the
opportunity to undo many of Edgar's grants to monasteries and to force the abbots to
rewrite leases and loans to favour the local nobility. Ealdorman lfhere was the
leader in this regard, attacking Oswald's network of monasteries across Mercia.
lfhere's rival thelwine, while a staunch protector of his family monastery of
Ramsey Abbey, treated Ely Abbey and other monasteries harshly.[28] At some point
during these disorders, lfhere and thelwine appear to have come close to open
warfare. This may well have been related to lfhere's ambitions in East Anglia and to
attacks upon Ramsey Abbey. thelwine, supported by his kinsman Ealdorman
Byrhtnoth of Essex and others unspecified, mustered an army and caused lfhere to
back down.
Very few charters survive from Edward's reign, perhaps as few as three, leaving
Edward's brief reign in obscurity. By contrast, numerous charters survived from the
reigns of his father Edgar and half-brother thelred. All of the surviving Edward
charters concern the royal heartland of Wessex; two deal with Crediton where
Edward's former tutor Sideman was bishop. During Edgar's reign, dies for coins were
cut only at Winchester and distributed from there to other mints across the kingdom.
Edward's reign permitted dies to be cut locally at York and at Lincoln. The general
impression is of a reduction or breakdown of royal authority in the midlands and
north. The machinery of government continued to function, as councils and synods
met as customary during Edward's reign, at Kirtlington in Oxfordshire after Easter
977, and again at Calne in Wiltshire the following year. During the meeting at Calne,
some councilors were killed and others injured by the collapse of the floor of their
The version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle containing the most detailed account
records that Edward was murdered in the evening of 18 March 978, while visiting
lfthryth and thelred, probably at or near the mound on which the ruins of Corfe
Castle now stand. It adds that he was buried at Wareham "without any royal honours".
"No worse deed for the English race was done than this was, since they first sought
out the land of Britain. Men murdered him, but God exalted him. In life he was an
earthly king; after death he is now a heavenly saint. His earthly relatives would not
avenge him, but his Heavenly Father has much avenged him."
Other versions of the Chronicle report less detail, the oldest text stating only that he
was killed, while versions from the 1040s say that he was martyred.
Modern historians have offered a variety of interpretations of Edward's killing. Three
main theories have been proposed. Firstly, that Edward was killed, as the life of


Oswald claims, by nobles in thelred's service, either as a result of a personal

quarrel, or to place their master on the throne. The life of Oswald portrays Edward as
an unstable young man who, according to Frank Stenton: "had offended many
important persons by his intolerable violence of speech and behavior. Long after he
had passed into veneration as a saint it was remembered that his outbursts of rage had
alarmed all who knew him, and especially the members of his own household."
In the second version, lfthryth was implicated, either beforehand by plotting the
killing, or afterwards in allowing the killers to go free and unpunished.
A third alternative, noting that Edward in 978 was very close to ruling on his own,
proposes that Ealdorman lfhere was behind the killing so as to preserve his own
influence and to prevent Edward taking revenge for lfhere's actions earlier in the
reign. John notes this and interprets lfhere's part in Edward's reburial as being a
penance for the assassination.
Edward's body lay at Wareham for a year before being disinterred. lfhere initiated
the re-interment, perhaps as a gesture of reconciliation. According to the life of
Oswald, Edward's body was found to be incorrupt when it was disinterred (which was
taken as a miraculous sign). The body was taken to the Shaftesbury Abbey, a nunnery
with royal connections which had been endowed by King Alfred the Great and where
Edward and thelred's grandmother lfgifu had spent her latter years.
Edward's remains were reburied with lavish public ceremony

In 1001, Edward's relics (he was considered to be a saint, although he was never
canonized) were translated to a more prominent place within the nunnery at
Shaftesbury. The ceremonies are said to have been led by the then-Bishop of
Sherborne, Wulfsige III, accompanied by a senior cleric. Edwards brother, King
thelred, who had succeeded Edward, was preoccupied with the threat of a Danish
invasion, and did not attend in person, but he issued a charter to the Shaftesbury nuns
late in 1001 granting them lands at Bradford on Avon, which is thought to be related.
A 13th-century calendar of saints gives the date of this translation as 20 June.
The rise of Edward's cult has been interpreted in various ways. It is sometimes
portrayed as a popular movement or as the product of a political attack on King
thelred by former supporters of Edward. Alternatively, thelred has been seen as
one of the key forces in the promotion of Edward's cult and that of their sister Eadgifu
(Edith of Wilton). He was thought to make the charter in 1001 granting land to


Shaftesbury at the elevation of Edward's relics, and some accounts suggest that
thelred legislated for the observation of Edward's feast days across England in a law
code of 1008
In the Orthodox Church, St Edward is ranked as a Passion-bearer, a type of saint who
accepts death out of love for Christ. Edward was never officially canonized, but he is
also regarded as a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church
and the Anglican Communion. His feast day is celebrated on 18 March, the day of his
murder. The Orthodox Church also commemorates him a second time each year on 3
Edward the Martyr was succeeded by his younger half brother Ethelred the Unready

ETHELRED THE UNREADY, or thelred II (circa 968 23 April 1016), was

king of England (9781013 and 10141016). He was son of King Edgar and Queen
lfthryth and was only about ten years old (no more than thirteen) when his halfbrother Edward was murdered. thelred was not personally suspected of
participation, but as the murder was committed at Corfe Castle by the attendants of
lfthryth, it made it more difficult for the new king to rally the nation against the
military raids by Danes, especially as the legend of St Edward the Martyr grew.
From 991 onwards, thelred paid tribute, to the Danish King. In 1002, thelred
ordered a massacre of Danish settlers. In 1003, King Sweyn of Denmark invaded
England, and in 1013, thelred fled to Normandy and was replaced by Sweyn, who
was also king of Denmark. thelred returned as king, however, after Sweyn died in


Unready, is a mistranslation of an Old English word meaning bad-counsel, a twist on

his name "thelred", meaning noble-counsel. A better translation would be illadvised.
During these early years of his reign, thelred was developing a close relationship to
thelwold, Bishop of Winchester, who had earlier supported his unsuccessful claim
to the throne. When thelwold died, on 1 August 984, thelred deeply lamented the
loss, and he wrote later in a charter from 993 that the event had deprived the country
of one "whose industry and pastoral care administered not only to my interest but also
to that of all inhabitants of the country."
England had experienced a period of peace after the re-conquest of the Danelaw in the
mid-10th century by King Edgar, thelred's father. However, beginning in 980,
when thelred could not have been more than 14 years old small companies of
Danish adventurers carried out a series of coast-line raids against England.
Hampshire, Thanet, and Cheshire were attacked in 980, Devon and Cornwall in 981,
and Dorset in 982. A period of six years then passed before, in 988, another coastal
attack is recorded as having taken place to the south-west, though here a famous battle
was fought between the invaders and the people of Devon. During this period, the
Normans, who remembered their origins as a Scandinavian people, were welldisposed to their Danish cousins who, occasionally returning from a raid on England,
sought rest in Normandy. This led to grave tension between the English and Norman
courts, and word of their enmity eventually reached Pope John XV. The pope was
disposed to dissolve their hostility towards each other, and took steps to engineer a
peace between England and Normandy, which was ratified in Rouen in 991.
However, in August of that same year, a sizeable Danish fleet began a sustained
campaign in the south-east of England. It arrived off Folkestone, in Kent, and made
its way around the south-east coast and up the river Blackwater, coming eventually to
its estuary and occupying Northey Island About 1 mile west of Northey lies the
coastal town of Maldon, where Byrhtnoth, ealdorman of Essex, was stationed with a
company of people. The battle that followed between English and Danes is
immortalised by the Old English poem The Battle of Maldon, which describes the
doomed but heroic attempt of Byrhtnoth to defend the coast of Essex against
overwhelming odds. This was the first of a series of crushing defeats felt by the
English: beaten first by Danish raiders, and later by organised Danish armies.


In 991, thelred was around 24 years old. In the aftermath of Maldon, it was decided
that the English should grant the tribute to the Danes that they desired, and so a gift of
10,000 pounds was paid to them for their peace. A treaty was signed between
thelred and Olaf that provided for seemingly civilised arrangements between the
then-settled Danish companies and the English government, such as regulation
settlement disputes and trade. But the treaty also stipulated that the ravaging and
slaughter of the previous year would be forgotten, and the treaty ended abruptly by
stating that 22,000 pounds of gold and silver had been paid to the raiders as the price
of peace. In 994, Olaf Tryggvason, already a baptised Christian, was confirmed as
Christian in a ceremony at Andover; King thelred stood as his sponsor. After
receiving gifts, Olaf promised "that he would never come back to England in
hostility." Olaf then left England for Norway and never returned, though other
component parts of the Viking force appear to have decided to stay in England, for it
is apparent from the treaty that some had chosen to enter into King thelred's service
as mercenaries, based presumably on the Isle of Wight.

In 997, Danish raids began again. It harried Cornwall, Devon, western Somerset, and
south Wales in 997, Dorset, Hampshire, and Sussex in 998. In 999, it raided Kent,
and, in 1000, it left England for Normandy, perhaps because the English had refused
in this latest wave of attacks to acquiesce to the Danish demands for gifts or tribute,
which would come to be known as Danegeld,. This sudden relief from attack allowed
thelred to gather his thoughts, resources, and armies. The Danish fleet's departure
in 1000 allowed thelred to carry out an attack on Strathclyde, the motive for which
is part of the lost history of the north.

In 1001, Danish fleet, perhaps the same fleet from 1000, returned and ravaged west
Sussex. During its movements, the fleet regularly returned to its base in the Isle of
Wight. There was later an attempted attack in the south of Devon, though the English
mounted a successful defense at Exeter. Nevertheless, thelred must have felt at a
loss, and, in the spring of 1002, the English bought a truce for 24,000 pounds.
thelred's frequent payments of immense Danegelds are often held up as an example
of the incompetency of his government and his own short-sightedness. Although
undeniably burdensome, it constituted a measure for which the king could always rely
on widespread support.
On 13 November 1002, thelred ordered the massacre of all Danish men in England
on St Brice's Day. No order of this kind could be carried out in more than a third of


England, where the Danes were too strong, but Gunhilde, sister of Sweyn Forkbeard,
King of Denmark, was said to have been among the victims. It is likely that a wish to
avenge her was a principal motive for Sweyn's invasion of western England the
following year. By 1004 Sweyn was in East Anglia, where he sacked Norwich. In this
year, a nobleman of East Anglia, Ulfcytel Snillingr met Sweyn in force, and made an
impression on the until-then rampant Danish invasion. Though Ulfcytel was
eventually defeated, outside of Thetford, he caused the Danes heavy losses and was
nearly able to destroy their ships. The Danish army left England for Denmark in 1005,
perhaps because of their injuries sustained in East Anglia, perhaps from the very
severe famine which afflicted the continent and the British Isles in that year.
Another invasion in the following year was bought off in early 1007 by tribute money
of 36,000 pounds, and for the next two years England was free from attack. In 1008,
Ethelreds government created a new fleet of warships, organised on a national scale.
But this was weakened when one of its commanders took to piracy, and the king and
his council decided not to risk it in a general action.

Sweyn then launched an invasion in 1013. He intended to crown himself king of

England. During this invasion he proved himself to be a general greater than any other
Viking leader of his generation. By the end of 1013 English resistance had collapsed
and Sweyn had conquered the country. thelred was forced into exile in Normandy.
The situation changed suddenly when Sweyn died on 3 February 1014. The crews of
the Danish ships in the Trent that had supported Sweyn immediately swore their
allegiance to Sweyn's son Canute, but leading English noblemen sent a deputation to
thelred to negotiate his restoration to the throne. Ethelred was required to declare
his loyalty to the noblemen, to bring in reforms regarding everything that they had
disliked and to forgive all that had been said and done in his previous reign. The terms
of this agreement are of great constitutional interest in early English History as they
are the first recorded pact between a King and his subjects and are also widely
regarded as showing that many English noblemen had submitted to Sweyn simply
because of their distrust of thelred.


thelred then launched an expedition against Canute. Canute's army had not
completed its preparations and, in April 1014, Canute decided to withdraw from
England without a fight leaving his allies to suffer thelred's revenge. In August
1015, Canute returned to find a complex and volatile situation unfolding in England.
thelred's son, Edmund Ironside, had revolted against his father. Edmund Ironside
was angry at thelred for the ravaging of Lindsey and he was prepared to support
Canute in any uprising against both of them.

Over the next months, Canute conquered most of England. Edmund had rejoined his
father thelred to defend London when thelred died on 23 April 1016. Edmund
succeeded his father to the crown but on 18 th October 1016 the subsequent battle
between Edmund and Canute ended in a decisive victory for Canute at the Battle of
Ashingdon. Edmund's reputation as a warrior was such that Canute and his father
Svein nevertheless agreed to divide England. Edmund took Wessex, and Canute and
Svein took the whole of the country beyond the Thames. However, Edmund died
soon after on 30 November 1016 and the Danes under Canute and his father Svein
therefore took over control of England.
thelred was buried in old St Paul's Cathedral, London.

thelred married first lfgifu, daughter of Thored, earl of Northumbria, in about

985. Their known children are:

thelstan theling (died 1014)

Ecgberht theling (died c. 1005)

Edmund Ironside (died 1016)
Eadred theling (died before 1013)
Eadwig theling (executed by Canute 1017)
Edgar theling (died c. 1008)
Eadgyth or Edith (married Eadric Streona)
lfgifu (married Uchtred the Bold, ealdorman of Northumbria)
Wulfhilda (married Ulfcytel Snillingr)
Abbess of Wherwell Abbey


In 1002 thelred married Emma of Normandy, sister of Richard II, Duke of

Normandy. Their children were:

Edward the Confessor (died 1066)

lfred theling (died 10367)
Goda of England (married 1. Drogo of Mantes and 2. Eustace II, Count of

EDMUND IRONSIDE or Edmund II (c. 989 30 November 1016) was King of

England from 23 April to 18 October 1016 and of Wessex from 23 April to 30
November 1016. His nickname Ironside" is not recorded until 1057, but it may have
been contemporary. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, it was given to him
"because of his valour" in resisting the Danish invasion led by Cnut the Great. He
fought five battles against the Danes, ending in defeat against Canute on 18 October
at the Battle of Assandun, after which they agreed to divide the kingdom, Edmund
taking Wessex and Canute the rest of the country. Edmund died shortly afterwards on
30 November, and Cnut became the king of all England.

Edmund was a signatory to charters from 993. He was the third of the six sons of
King thelred the Unready and his first wife, lfgifu, who was probably the
daughter of Earl Thored of Northumbria. His elder brothers were thelstan and
Egbert (died c. 1005), and younger ones, Eadred, Eadwig and Edgar. His mother died


around 1000, after which his father remarried, this time to Emma of Normandy, who
had two sons, Edward the Confessor and Alfred.

thelred died on 23 April 1016, and the citizens and councilors in London chose
Edmund as king and probably crowned him. He then mounted a last-ditch effort
defend England against the Danes. While the Danes laid siege to London, Edmund
headed for Wessex, where the people submitted to him and he gathered an army. He
fought inconclusive battles against the Danes and their English supporters at
Penselwood in Somerset and Sherston in Wiltshire. He then raised the siege of
London and defeated the Danes near Brentford. The Danes renewed the siege while
Edmund went to Wessex to raise further troops, returning to again relieve London,
and defeat the Danes at Otford, and pursue Canute into Kent. Eadric Streona now
went over to Edmund, but at the decisive Battle of Assandun on 18 October, Eadric
and his men fled and Canute and his father Svein decisively defeated Edmund.
There may have been one further battle in the Forest of Dean, after which the two
kings negotiated a peace dividing the country between them. Edmund received
Wessex while Canute and Svein took Mercia and probably Northumbria.
Shortly afterwards, on 30 November 1016, King Edmund died, probably in London.
Canute and Svein were now able to seize control as of England. Edmund was buried
at Glastonbury Abbey in Somerset. His burial site is now lost. During the Dissolution
of the Monasteries, any remains of a monument or crypt were destroyed. The location
of his body is unknown.
Edmund had two children by his wife Ealdgyth, Edward the Exile and Edmund.
According to John of Worcester, Canute sent them to the king of Sweden to be
murdered, but they were instead sent to Hungary, where Edmund died but Edward
prospered. He returned to England in 1057 only to die within days of his arrival. His
son Edgar the theling was briefly proclaimed king after the Battle of Hastings in
1066, but he also immediately submitted to William the Conqueror.



SWEYN FORKBEARD (d. 3 February 1014) was king of Denmark and England, as
well as parts of Norway. His name appears as Swegen in, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.
He was the son of King Harald Bluetooth of Denmark, and he was the father of King
Canute the Great.
In the mid 980s Sweyn revolted against his father and seized the throne of Denmark.
King Harald of Denmark was driven into exile and died soon afterwards in November
986 or 987. In 1000, with allegiance of the Trondejarl, Eric of Lade, Sweyn was also
ruler over most of Norway. After a long conquest of England by his son Canute, and
shortly before his death, in 1013 he became the first of the Danish Kings of England.


Sweyn Forkbeard had coins made with an image in his likeness. The Latin inscription
on the coins read, "ZVEN REX DNOR[UM]", which translates as "Sven, king of
the Danes"
Sweyn's father, Harald Bluetooth, was the first of the Scandinavian kings to officially
accept Christianity in the early or mid-960s. According to Adam of Bremen, an 11thcentury historian, Harald's son Sweyn was baptised Otto, in tribute to the German
King Otto I, who was the first Holy Roman Emperor. Sweyn Forkbeard is never
known to have officially made use of this Christian name.

Many details about Sweyn's life are contested. Scholars disagree about the various,
too often contradictory, accounts of his life that are given in various sources from his
era of history,
According to the chronicles of John of Wallingford, Sweyn was involved in raids
against England during 10021005, 10061007, and 10091012, to revenge the St.
Brice's Day massacre of England's Danish inhabitants in November 1002. Historians
have considered the massacre as similar to a large-scale ethnic cleansing of the Danes
in England orchestrated earlier by thelred the Unready. Sweyn was believed to have
had a personal interest in the atrocities due to his sister Gunhilde being amongst the
Some scholars have argued that Sweyn's participation may have been prompted by his
state of impoverishment after having been forced to pay a hefty ransom. He needed
the revenue and he acquired massive sums of Danegeld through the raids. In 1013, he
is reported to have personally led his forces in a full-scale invasion.
The contemporary Peterborough Chronicle (also called the Laud Manuscript), one of
the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, states, "Before the month of August came king Sweyn
with his fleet to Sandwich. He went very quickly about East Anglia into the Humber's
mouth. And so upward along the Trent till he came to Gainsborough. Earl Uchtred
and all Northumbria quickly bowed to him, as did all the people of Lindsey, then the
people of the Five Boroughs. He was given hostages from each shire. When he
understood that all the people had submitted to him, he bade that his force should be
provisioned and horsed; he went south with the main part of the invasion force, while
some of the invasion force, as well as the hostages, were with his son Canute. After he
came over Watling Street, they went to Oxford, and the town-dwellers soon bowed to
him, and gave hostages. From there they went to Winchester, and the people did the
same, then eastward to London."


The Londoners however, put up a strong resistance, because King thelred and
Thorkell the Tall, a Viking leader who had defected to thelred, were in the city, and
held their ground against him. Sweyn then went west to Bath, where the western
thanes submitted to him and gave hostages. The Londoners followed suit, fearing
Sweyn's revenge if they resisted any longer. King thelred sent his sons Edward and
Alfred to Normandy, and Ethelred retreated to the Isle of Wight, and then followed
his sons into exile. On Christmas Day 1013 Sweyn was declared King Sweyn of
Based in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, Sweyn began to organise his vast new
kingdom, but he died there on 3 February 1014, having ruled England for only five
weeks. His embalmed body was returned to Denmark, to be buried in the church he
built in Roskilde. In Denmark Svein was succeeded briefly as King by his elder son,
Harald II, In England however Sveins younger son Canute contrived to take the
English crown. The English Councilors however, had sent for thelred to come out
of exile in Normandy, who upon his return in the spring of 1014 he managed to drive
Canute out of England. But Canute returned and eventually defeated and killed
Ethelred to become King Canute the first of England in 1016. In 1018 Canutes
brother King Harald the second of Denmark died, at which time Canute also became
King of Denmark, Norway and parts of Sweden, Pomerania, and Schleswig.
Canute and his two sons Harold Harefoot and Harthacnut ruled England for 26 years.
After Harthacnut's death, the English throne reverted back to the House of Wessex.
Sweyn's descendants however, through his daughter Estrid continue to rule Denmark
to this day. One of Sweyns descendants, Margaret of Denmark, married James the
third of Scotland, introducing Sweyn's bloodline into the Scottish Royal blood line.
After James the sixth of Scotland inherited the English throne in 1603 to become
James the first of England, Sweyn's ancestry was introduced into the English royal
bloodline as well.

CANUTE THE GREAT (c. 985 or 995 12 November 1035), more commonly
known as Canute.

He was a king of Denmark, England, Norway, and parts of

Sweden, together often referred to as the Anglo-Scandinavian or North Sea Empire.

Canute became King of England in 1016. After his death, and the deaths of all his


heirs within a decade, and the Norman conquest of England in 1066, his legacy was
largely lost to history. Historian Norman Cantor has made the statement that he was
"the most effective king in Anglo-Saxon history", despite his not being Anglo-Saxon.

Canute was of Danish and Slavic descent. His father was Sweyn Forkbeard, King of
Denmark (which gave Canute the patronym Sweynsson, Old Norse Sveinsson).
Canute's mother was the daughter of the first duke of the Polans, Mieszko I. her name
may have been witosawa, but the Oxford DNB article on Canute states that her
name is unknown. In the summer of 1015 Canute's fleet set sail for England with a
Danish army of perhaps 10,000 in 200 long ships. Canute was at the head of an array
of Vikings from all over Scandinavia. The invasion force was to engage in often close
and grisly warfare with the English for the next fourteen months. Practically all of the
battles were fought against Edmund Ironside, the eldest son of Aethelred.

According to the Peterborough manuscript of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, early in

September 1015 Canute came into Sandwich, and straightway sailed around Kent to
Wessex, until he came to the mouth of the Frome. He harried the English in Dorset
and Wiltshire and Somerset, and began a campaign of an intensity not seen since the
days of Alfred the Great.
As a prince of Denmark, Canute won the throne of England in 1016 in the wake of
centuries of Viking activity in northwestern Europe. His eventual accession to the
Danish throne in 1018 also brought the crowns of England and Denmark together.
Canute maintained his power by uniting Danes and Englishmen under cultural bonds
of wealth and custom, rather than by sheer brutality. After a decade of conflict with
opponents in Scandinavia, Canute claimed the crown of Norway in Trondheim in
1028. The Swedish city Sigtuna was held by Canute. He had coins struck there that
called him king, but there is no narrative record of his occupation.


The kingship of England gave the Danes an important link to the maritime zone
between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, where Canute, like his father before
him, had a strong interest and wielded much influence among the Gall-Ghaedhil.
Canutes possession of England's Dioceses and the Diocese of Denmark, with a claim
laid upon it by the Holy Roman Empire's Archdiocese of Hamburg-Bremen, was a
source of great leverage within the Church, gaining notable concessions from Pope
Benedict VIII and his successor John XIX. At the coronation of the Holy Roman
Emperor, Canute also gained concessions from other magnates of medieval
Christendom from the tolls his people had to pay on the way to Rome, After his 1026
victory against Norway and Sweden, and on his way to Rome for this coronation,
Canute in a letter written for the benefit of his subjects, stated himself "king of all
England and Denmark and the Norwegians and of some of the Swedes"

A 12th-century chronicler, tells how Canute set his throne by the sea shore and
commanded the tide to halt and not wet his feet and robes. Continuing to rise as usual
the tide dashed over his feet and legs without respect to his royal person. Then the
king leapt backwards, saying: 'Let all men know, how empty and worthless is the
power of kings. There is no one worthy of the name, but he whom heaven, earth, and
sea obey by eternal laws.' He then hung his gold crown on a crucifix, and never wore
it again, saying to the honour of God the almighty King. This incident is usually
misrepresented by popular commentators and politicians as an example of Canute's
The encounter with the waves is said to have taken place at Thorn-eye (Thorney
Island), in Southampton, Hampshire. There were and are numerous islands so named,
in West Sussex, associated with Canute.
However, according to the House of Commons Information Office, Canute set up a
royal palace and court on Thorney Island during his reign, and the court was later to

moved and became known as Westminster in an area sufficiently far away from the
busy settlement to the east, known as London. It is also conflictingly believed that it
was on the Westminister site that Canute tried to command the tide of the river. This
was to prove to his courtiers that they were fools to think that he could command the
waves. Also conflictingly, a sign on Southampton city centre's Canute Road reads,
"Near this spot AD 1028 Canute reproved his courtiers
Canute the first died in 1035. He was succeeded to the throne by Harald Harefoot, a
son presented to him by his first wife.
King Canutes second wife was Emma of Normandy who had previously been
married to Ethelred the Unready and she had also bore him a son Harthcnut. Emma
of Normandy already had two sons from her marriage to Ethelred who were Edward
and Alfred.
When Canute died and because of Harold questionable parentage, Harthncut who was
by then the King of Denmark was considered to be more entitled to be Canutes
successor to the English throne and he eventually did succeed after his half brother
Harold. Later Edward (Edward the Confessor) also became King of England

HAROLD HAREFOOT or Harold I (c. 1015 17 March 1040) was King of

England from 1035 to 1040. His nickname "Harefoot" referred to his speed, and the
skill of his huntsman ship. He was the younger son of Cnut the Great, king of
England, Denmark, and Norway by his first wife, lfgifu of Northampton.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle reports that Harold said that he was a son of Cnut the
Great and lfgifu of Northampton. This however is perhaps untrue. Florence of
Worcester in the 12th century elaborated on the subject and claimed that lfgifu
wanted to have a son by the king but was unable. She secretly adopted the newborn
children of strangers and pretended to have given birth to them. Harold was reportedly
the son of a cobbler, while his brother Svein Knutsson was the illegitimate son of a
priest. She deceived Canute into recognizing both children as his own. Harriet
O'Brien doubts that Canute, the shrewd politician who "masterminded the bloodless
takeover of Norway" could have been deceived in such a way. She suspects that the


tale started out as a popular myth, or an intentional defamation presumably tailored by

Emma of Normandy, who had been previously married to Ethelred the Unready but
who was now the second wife of Canute and a rival to the divorced lfgifu.

Upon the death of Canute on 12 November 1035, Due to Harolds questionable

parentage, Harold's younger half-brother Harthacnut, the son of Canute and his Queen
Emma of Normandy, was considered to be the legitimate heir to the thrones of both
the Danes and the English.

Harthacnut, however, was unable to travel to his

coronation in England because his Danish kingdom was under threat of invasion by
King Magnus I of Norway and King Anund Jacob of Sweden. England's magnates
favoured the idea of installing Harold Harefoot temporarily as regent or joint
monarch, due to the difficulty of Harthacnut's absence, and despite the opposition of
Godwin, the Earl of Wessex, and Queen Emma, he eventually wore the crown. There
is some dispute in primary sources about Harold the firsts initial role. Some sources
mention him as regent, and the others as co-ruler. Harold could claim the regency or
maybe the kingship because he was the only one of Canute the firsts five sons
present at England in 1035.
Of Canutes five sons, Harold was in England, Harthacnut was reigning in Denmark,
and Svein had joined him there following his deposition from the Norwegian throne,
while Edward and Alfred were in Normandy.
Harold reportedly sought coronation as early as 1035, however, thelnoth, the
Archbishop of Canterbury, refused to crown Harold Harefoot. This was on the
grounds that if a Coronation was performed by the Archbishop it would indicate that
the archbishop believed Harold was legally entitled to become a king. thelnoth
reportedly placed the sceptre and crown on the altar of a temple, possibly that of the
Canterbury Cathedral. Then he offered to consecrate Harold without using any of the
royal regalia which would have been an empty honor. Ethelmoth refused to remove
the items from the altar and forbade any other bishop from doing so. The tale goes on
that Harold failed to sway thelnoth, as both bribes and threats proved ineffectual.
The despairing Harold reportedly rejected Christianity in protest. He refused to attend
church services while uncrowned, preoccupying himself with hunting and trivial
matters. Initially the Kingdom of England was divided between the two half-brothers

Harold and Harthacnut. Harold ruled the areas north of the River Thames, and he was
supported by the northern nobility. The southern nobility under Godwin, the Earl of
Wessex and Emma of Normandy who was the mother of Harthacnut, continued to be
ruled in the name of the absent Harthacnut
The situation could not last for long, and Godwin the Earl of Wessex eventually
switched sides. In 1037, Emma of Normandy fled to Bruges, Flanders, and Harold
everywhere was then chosen as King. The details behind the event are obscure. One
theory states that the death of Harolds brother Svein Knutsson could have
strengthened Harold's position. Harold went from being the second surviving son of
Canute to being the eldest living son. Harthacnut was still absent and unable to press
his claim to the throne.
At the time it was possible for the eldest son of a king who had a superior right of
inheritance but could still lose the throne to a younger brother, or other junior
claimant. Harolds strength in England was the way Harold the first managed to win
the throne.

With the Kingdom of England practically owned by Harold the first, his half brother
Harthacnut could not even approach without securing sufficient military strength, and
Harthacnuts decision to remain in Denmark probably points to him lacking sufficient
support. He would however, most certainly wait for an opportunity to forcefully
assert his claim and depose his half-brother. Harold the first reigned as sole king from
1037 to 1040. There are few surviving documents about events of his reign.
In 1036, lfred theling, son of Emma of Normandy by the long-dead thelred the
unready, returned to England from exile in the Duchy of Normandy with his brother
Edward who eventually became Edward the Confessor.

The motivation of the

brothers is uncertain. It is claimed that they had come to claim the English throne for
themselves, and it was suspected that Emma had invited them, possibly to use them
against Harold.

If so, it could mean that Emma had abandoned the cause of

Harthacnut, probably to strengthen her own position

It is also claimed that Harold himself had lured them to England, having sent them a
forged letter, supposedly written by Emma. The letter reportedly both decried


Harold's behavior against her, and urged her estranged sons to come and protect her.
Modern historians suspect that this letter was genuine.
With his bodyguard, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, lfred intended to visit
his mother, Emma of Normandy, in Winchester, but he may have made this journey
for reasons other than a family reunion. At this time Harold the first had a lot of
support and on the direction of Godwin the Earl of Wessex (now apparently on the
side of Harold the first), lfred was captured. Godwin had him seized and delivered
to an escort of men loyal to Harald the first. He was transported by ship to Ely, and
blind folded while on board. He died in Ely soon after due to the severity of the
wounds he sustained. This event would later affect the relationship between Edward
when he became King Edward the Confessor and Godwin. Edward the Confessor
would hold Godwin responsible for the death of his brother.

The failed invasion shows that Harold the first, son of Canutes first wife, and
successor to Canute the first, had gained the support of Anglo-Danish nobility, which
violently rejected the claims of lfred, Edward, and (by extension) the Aethelings.
The House of Wessex had lost support among the nobility of the Kingdom. It might
also have served as a turning point in the struggle between Harold and Emma of
Normandy, resulting in the exile of Emma

Harold died at Oxford on 17 March 1040 at the relatively young age of 24, just as his
brother Harthacnut was preparing an invasion force of Danes. Harold the first was
buried at Westminster Abbey His body was subsequently exhumed, beheaded, and
thrown into a fen bordering the Thames, when Harthacnut assumed the throne in June
of 1040. The body was subsequently recovered by fishermen, and resident Danes
reportedly had it reburied at their local cemetery in London. The body was eventually
buried in a church in the City of Westminster, which was fittingly named St. Clement


There is little attention paid to the illness of King Harold. Harriet O'Brien feels this is
enough to indicate that Harold died of natural causes, but not to determine the nature
of the disease. The Anglo-Saxons themselves would consider him elf-shot (attacked
by elves), their term for any number of deadly diseases. Michael Evans points out that
Harold was only one of several youthful kings of pre-Conquest England to die
following short reigns. Others included Edmund I (reigned 939946), Eadred (reigned
946955), Eadwig (reigned 955959), Edmund Ironside (reigned 1016), and
Harthacnut (reigned 10401042). Evans wonders whether the role of king was
dangerous in this era, more so than in the period after the Conquest, or whether
hereditary diseases were in effect, since most of these kings were members of the
same lineage, the House of Wessex.

It is unclear why a king would have been buried at the Abbey. The only previous
royals reportedly buried there were Sberht of Essex and his wife thelgoda. Emma
Mason speculates that Canute had built a royal residence in the vicinity of the Abbey,
or that Westminster held some significance to the Danish Kings of England, which
would also explain why Harthacnut would not allow a usurper to be buried there. The
lack of detail in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle implies that, for its compilers, the main
point of interest was not the burial site, but the exhumation of the body. Harriet
O'Brien theorises that the choice of location might simply reflect the political
affiliation of the area, the area of Westminster and nearby London being a power base
for Harold. the first.
Harold may have had a wife, lfgifu, and a son, lfwine, who eventually became a
monk on the continent.

When he was old, his monastic name was Alboin.

lfwine/Alboin is recorded in 1060 and 1062 in charters from the St. Foy Abbey
Church in Conques, which mention him as son of "Heroldus rex fuit Anglorum"
(Latin: Harold, who was King of the English People). Harold Harefoot is the most
likely father as the only other King Harold was Harold Godwinson, who would not


rise to the throne until 1066. Either way, an underage boy would be unable to claim
the throne in 1040. and his possible hereditary claims would not be enough to gain the
support of the leading nobles against the adult Harthacnut.

HARTHACNUT (Danish: Hardeknud; "Tough-knot"; c.1018 8 June 1042) was

King of Denmark from 1035 to 1042 and King of England from 1040 to 1042.
He was the son of King Cnut the Great and Emma of Normandy. He ruled Denmark,
Norway, and England. When Canute died in 1035, Harthacnut struggled to retain his
father's land possessions. Magnus I took of control of Norway, but Harthacnut
succeeded as King of Denmark and eventually became King of England in 1040 after
the death of his half-brother Harold Harefoot.
Harthacnut died suddenly in 1042 and was succeeded by Magnus in Denmark and
Edward the Confessor in England. Harthacnut was the last Danish king to rule



EDWARD THE CONFESSOR (Latin: Eduardus Confessor; between 1003 and

1005 to the 4th or 5th January 1066), Edward the Confessor was the son of thelred
the Unready and Emma of Normandy. He was one of the last Anglo-Saxon kings of
England and is usually regarded as the last king of the House of Wessex, ruling from
1042 to 1066
When Canute died his two sons Harold by his first wife and Harthncut by his second
wife Emma of Normandy succeeded him in succession to the throne. Neither of these
sons produced heirs, therefore the succession reverted to the sons of the dead Ethelred
the Unready who had also been married to Emma of Normandy and produced two
sons Alfred and Edward.

Alfred had been killed by Harold, and Edward therefore

succeeded Harthcnut to became Edward the Confessor.

Edward has traditionally been seen as unworldly and pious, and his reign as notable
for the disintegration of royal power in England and the advance in power of the
Godwin family. Edward had succeeded Canute the Great's son Harthacnut, restoring


the rule of the House of Wessex after the period of Danish rule since Cnut had
conquered England in 1016. When Edward died in 1066 he was succeeded by Harold
Godwinson, who was defeated and killed in the same year by the Normans under
William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings.

Edward is called the Confessor, the name for someone believed to have lived a saintly
life but who was not a martyr. He was canonised in 1161 by Pope Alexander III, and
is commemorated on 13 October by both the Church of England and the Roman
Catholic Church in England and Wales. Saint Edward was one of the national saints
of England until King Edward the third adopted Saint George as patron saint in about

Edward was the seventh son of thelred the Unready, and the first by his second
wife, Emma of Normandy. Edward was born between 1002 and 1005 in Islip,
Oxfordshire, and is first recorded as a 'witness' to two charters in 1005. He had one
full brother, Alfred, and a sister, Godgifu. In charters he was always listed behind his
older half-brothers, showing that he ranked behind them.
During his childhood England was the target of Viking raids and invasions under
Sweyn Forkbeard and his son, Canute. Following Sweyn's seizure of the throne in
1013, Emma fled to Normandy, followed by Edward and Alfred, and then by Emmas
husband, King Ethelred. Sweyn died in February 1014, and leading Englishmen
invited Ethelred back on condition that he promised to rule 'more justly' than before.
Ethelred agreed, sending Edward back with his ambassadors. Ethelred died in April
1016, and he was succeeded by Edward's older half brother Edmund Ironside, who
carried on the fight against Sweyn's son, Canute. According to Scandinavian tradition,
Edward fought alongside Edmund; as Edward was at most thirteen years old at the
time, the story is disputed. Edmund died in November 1016, and Canute became
undisputed king. Edward then again went into exile with his brother and sister, but his
mother Emma of Normandy had no taste for the sidelines, and in 1017 she married


Canute. In the same year Canute had Edward's last surviving elder half-brother,
Eadwig, executed, and thus leaving Edward as the leading Anglo-Saxon claimant to
the throne.
Edward spent a quarter of a century in exile, probably mainly in Normandy, although
there is no evidence of his location until the early 1030s. He probably received
support from his sister Godgifu, who married Drogo of Mantes, count of Vexin in
about 1024. In the early 1030s Edward witnessed four charters in Normandy, signing
two of them as King of England. Edward was said to have developed an intense
personal piety during this period, but modern historians regard this as a product of the
later medieval campaign for his canonisation. He appeared to have a slim prospect of
acceding to the English throne during this period, and his ambitious mother Emma of
Normandy was more interested in supporting Harthacnut, her son by Canute.

Canute died in 1035, and Harthacnut succeeded as king of Denmark. It is unclear

whether he was intended to have England as well, but he was too much occupied in
defending his position there to come to England to make good any claim. It was
therefore decided that his elder half-brother, Harold Harefoot should act as regent,
while Emma of Normandy held Wessex on Harthacnut's behalf. In 1036 Edward and
his brother Alfred separately came to England. Emma later claimed that they came in
response to a letter inviting them to visit her which had been forged by Harold, but
historians believe that she probably did invite them in an effort to counter Harold's
growing popularity.
Alfred was captured by Godwin, Earl of Wessex who turned him over to Harold
Harefoot. He had Alfred blinded by forcing red hot pokers into his eyes to make him
unsuitable for kingship, and Alfred died soon after as a result of his wounds. The
murder is thought to be the source of much of Edward's later hatred for the Godwin
the Earl of Wessex and one of the primary reasons for Godwin's banishment in
autumn 1051. Edward is said to have fought a successful skirmish near Southampton,
and then retreated back to Normandy. He thus showed his prudence, but he had some
reputation as a soldier in Normandy and Scandinavia.


In 1037 Harold was accepted as king, and the following year he expelled Emma of
Normandy (Canutes second wife), who retreated to Bruges. She then summoned
Edward and demanded his help for Harthacnut.

Edward refused as he had no

resources to launch an invasion, and disclaimed any interest for himself in the throne.
Harthacnut, his position in Denmark now secure, did plan an invasion, but Harold
died in 1040, and Harthacnut was able to cross unopposed and with his mother Emma
of Normandy to take the English throne.
In 1041, Harthacnut invited Edward back to England, probably as heir because he
knew he had not long to live. Edward arrived at Hursteshever, probably Hurst Head, a
shingle spit opposite the Isle of Wight which was the site of the later Hurst Castle.
There he was received as King in return for his oath that he would continue the laws
of Canute.

Following Harthacnut's death on 8 June 1042, Godwin the Earl of Wessex and the
most powerful of the English earls, supported Edward, who succeeded to the throne.
Edward complained that his mother Emma of Normandy, had done less for him than
he wanted before he became king, and also afterwards. In November 1043 he rode to
Winchester with his three leading earls, Leofric of Mercia, Godwin the Earl of
Wessex and Siward of Northumbria, to deprive her of her property, possibly because
she was holding on to treasure which belonged to the King. Her adviser, Stigand, was
deprived of his bishopric of Elmham in East Anglia. However, both were soon
restored to favour, after Emma of Normandy died in 1052.
Edward's position when he came to the throne was very weak. Effective rule required
keeping on terms with the three leading Earls, but loyalty had been eroded by the
period of Danish rule. Leofric the Earl of Mercia was descended from a family which
had served thelred. Siward the Earl of Nothumbria was probably Danish, and
Godwin the Earl of Wessex although he was English, he was one of Canute's new
men, and married to Canute's former sister-in-law. However, in his early years
Edward restored the traditional strong monarchy, showing himself to be a vigorous


and ambitious man, a true son of the impetuous thelred and the formidable Emma
of Normandy.
In 1043 Godwin the Earl of Wessexs eldest son Sweyn was appointed to an earldom
in the south-west midlands, and on 23 January 1045 Edward the Confessor married
Edith, the Earl of Wessexs daughter. Soon afterwards, her brother Harold and her
Danish cousin Beorn Estrithson were also given earldoms in southern England.
Godwin the Earl of Wessex and his family now ruled subordinately all of Southern
England. However, in 1047 Sweyn was banished for abducting the Abbess of
Leominster. In 1049 he returned to try to regain his earldom, but this was said to have
been opposed by Harold and Beorn, probably because they had been given Sweyn's
land in his absence. Sweyn murdered his cousin Beorn and went again into exile.
Edward the Confessor's nephew, Ralph was given Beorn's earldom, but the following
year Sweyn's father was able to secure his reinstatement.

The wealth of Edward the Confessors lands exceeded that of the greatest Earls, but
they were scattered among the southern earldoms. He had no personal powerbase, and
he does not seem to have attempted to build one. In 105051 he even paid off the
fourteen foreign ships which constituted his standing navy and abolished the tax
raised to pay for it. However in ecclesiastical and foreign affairs he was able to follow
his own policy. King Magnus of Norway aspired to the English throne, and in 1045
and 1046, fearing an invasion Edward the Confessor took command of the fleet at
Sandwich. Beorn's elder brother, Sweyn of Denmark submitted himself to Edward as
a son", hoping for his help in his battle with Magnus for control of Denmark, but in
1047 Edward rejected Godwin the Earl of Wessexs demand that he send aid to his
son Sweyn, and it was only Magnus's death in October that saved England from attack
and allowed Sweyn to take the Danish throne.
Modern historians reject the traditional view that Edward mainly employed Norman
favourites, but he did have foreigners in his household, including a few Normans, who
became unpopular. Chief among them was Robert, Abbot of the Norman abbey of
Jumiges, who had known Edward from the 1030s and came to England with him in
1041, becoming Bishop of London in 1043.

In ecclesiastical appointments, Edward and his advisers showed a bias against

candidates with local connections, and when the clergy and monks of Canterbury
elected a relative of Godwin as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1051, Edward rejected
him and appointed Robert of Jumiges. Robert claimed that Godwin was in illegal
possession of some archiepiscopal estates. In September Edward was visited by his
brother-in-law, Godgifu's second husband, Eustace, Count of Boulogne. His men had
caused an affray in Dover, and Edward ordered Godwin as Earl of Wessex to punish
the town's burgesses, but Godwin took the side of the Towns burgesses and refused.
Edward seized the chance to bring his over-mighty Earl of Wessex to heel.
Archbishop Robert accused Godwin Earl of Wessex of plotting to kill the king, just as
he had killed his brother Alfred in 1036. Leofric the Earl of Mercia and Siward the
Earl of Northumbria supported the king and called up their supporters. Godwin the
Earl of Wessex and his sons Sweyn and Harold called up their supporters, but neither
side wanted a fight.
Godwin the Earl of Wessexs' position disintegrated as their men were not willing to
fight the king. When the Kings message was conveyed to Godwin which was "that
Godwin could have his peace if he could restore the Kings brother Alfred (whom
Godwin had had killed) and his companions alive and well. Godwin the Earl of
Wessex saw that he had lost the support of the King and he and his sons fled, going to
Flanders and Ireland. Edward is repudiated to have sent his wife Edith to a nunnery,
perhaps because she was childless, and Archbishop Robert urged Edward to divorce
Godwins oldest son Sweyn went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem (dying on his way
back), but Godwin and his other sons returned with an army a year later, and received
considerable support, while Leofric the earl of Mercia and Siward the Earl of
Nurthumbria failed to support the king. Both sides were concerned that a civil war
would leave the country open to foreign invasion. The king was furious, but he was
forced to give way and restore Godwin and Harold to their earldoms of Wessex, while
Robert of Jumiges and other Frenchmen fled, in fear of Godwin's vengeance. Edith
was restored as queen, and Stigand, was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury in
Robert's place. Stigand retained his existing bishopric of Winchester, and his
pluralism was to be a continuing source of dispute with the pope. Edward's nephew,


Earl Ralph, who had been one of his chief supporters in the crisis of 105152, may
have received Sweyn's marcher earldom of Hereford at this time.
Until the mid-1050s Edward was able to structure his earldoms so as to prevent the
Wessex Godwins becoming dominant. Godwin himself died in 1053 and although his
son Harold succeeded to his Earldom of Wessex, none of his other brothers Tostig,
Gryth and Leofwine were Earls at this date. His house was then weaker than it had
been since Edward's succession. But a succession of deaths in 105557 completely
changed the picture in 1055.

Siward the Earl of Northumbria died but his son was considered too young to
command Northumbria, and Godwins son Tostig was appointed. In 1057 Leofric
and Ralph died, and Leofric's son lfgar succeeded as Earl of Mercia, while
Godwins son Gyrth succeeded lfgar as Earl of East Anglia. The fourth surviving
Godwin brother, Leofwine, was given an earldom in the south-east this was carved
out of Harold's territory, and Harold received Ralph's territory in compensation. Thus
by 1057 the Godwin brothers Harold, Tostig, Gyrth and Leofwine controlled all of
England subordinately apart from Mercia. It is not known whether Edward approved
of this transformation or whether he had to accept it, but from this time he seems to
have begun to withdraw from active politics, devoting himself to hunting, which he
pursued each day after attending church.
In the 1050s, Edward had pursued an aggressive, and generally successful, policy in
dealing with Scotland and Wales. Malcolm Canmore was an exile at Edward's court
after Macbeth killed his father Duncan I, and seized the Scottish throne. In 1054
Edward sent Siward Earl of Northumbria to invade Scotland. He defeated Macbeth,
and Malcolm who had accompanied the expedition gained control of southern
Scotland. By 1058 Malcolm had killed Macbeth in battle and taken the Scottish
throne. In 1059 Malcolm visited Edward, but in 1061 he started raiding Northumbria
with the aim of adding it to his territory.


In 1053 Edward ordered the assassination of the south Welsh prince Rhys ap
Rhydderch in reprisal for a raid on England, and Rhys's head was delivered to him. In
1055 Gruffydd ap Llywelyn established himself as the ruler of all Wales, and allied
himself with lfgar of Mercia, who had been outlawed for treason. They defeated
Earl Ralph at Hereford, and Harold had to collect forces from nearly all of England to
drive the invaders back into Wales. Peace was concluded with the reinstatement of
lfgar, who was able to succeed as Earl of Mercia on the death of his father Leofric
in 1057. Gruffydd swore an oath to be a faithful under-king of Edward the Confessor.
lfgar appears to have died in 1062 and his young son Edwin was allowed to succeed
as Earl of Mercia, but Harold then launched a surprise attack on Gruffydd. He
escaped, but when Harold and Tostig attacked again the following year, he retreated
and was killed by Welsh enemies. Edward the Confessor and Harold were then able to
impose control on some Welsh princes.
In October 1065 Tostig, the Earl of Northumbria, was hunting with the king when the
people in Northumbria rebelled against the Earls rule, which they claimed was
oppressive. They killed some 200 of Tostig's followers, nominated Morcar, the
brother of Edwin of Mercia, as Earl of Northumbria and invited the brothers Morcar
and Edwin to march south. They met Harold at Northampton, and Tostig accused
Harold of conspiring with the rebels to overthrow him. Tostig up until then seems to
have been a favourite with Edward the Confessor and his Queen Edith, who now
demanded that the revolt be suppressed. But neither Harold nor anyone else would
support Tostig. Edward the Confessor was therefore forced to submit to the demands
of the rebels to banish Tostig. The resulting humiliation may have caused a series of
strokes which led to his death. He was too weak to attend the dedication of his new
church at Westminster, which was then still incomplete, on 28 December.
Edward probably entrusted the kingdom to Harold, son of Godwin the Earl of Wessex
and to his wife Edith shortly before he died on 4 or 5 January 1066. On 6 January he
was buried in Westminster Abbey, and Harold was crowned Harold the second on the
same day.
Starting as early as William of Malmesbury in the early 12th century, historians have
puzzled over Edward's intentions for the succession. One school of thought supports
the Norman case that Edward always intended William the Conqueror to be his heir,


accepting the medieval claim that Edward had already decided to be celibate before
he married. But most historians believe that he hoped to have an heir by Edith at least
until his quarrel with Godwin in 1051. William may have visited Edward during
Godwin's exile, and he is thought to have promised William the succession at this
time, but historians disagree how seriously he meant the promise, and whether he later
changed his mind. Edmund Ironside's son, Edward theling, had the best claim to
be considered Edward the Confessors heir. He had been taken as a young child to
Hungary, and in 1054 Bishop Ealdred of Worcester visited the Holy Roman Emperor,
Henry III to secure his return, probably with a view to becoming Edward's heir.

The exile returned to England in 1057 with his family, but he died almost
immediately. His son Edgar, who was then about five years old, was brought up at the
English court. He was given the designation theling, meaning throneworthy, which
may mean that Edward considered making him his heir, and he was briefly declared
King after Harold's subsequent death in 1066. However, Edgar was absent from
witness lists of Edward's diplomas, and there is no evidence in the Domesday Book
that he was a substantial landowner, which suggests that he was marginalised at the
end of Edward's reign.
After the mid-1050s, Edward seems to have withdrawn from affairs as he became
increasingly dependent on the sons of Godwin the Earl of Wessex, and may have
become reconciled to the idea that one of them would succeed him. The Normans
claimed that Edward sent Harold to Normandy in about 1064 to confirm the promise
of the succession to William. The strongest evidence comes from a Norman apologist,
William of Poitiers. According to his account, shortly before the Battle of Hastings,
Harold sent William an envoy who admitted that Edward had promised the throne to
William but argued that this was overridden by his deathbed promise to Harold. In
reply, William did not dispute the deathbed promise, but argued that Edward's prior
promise to him took precedence.


In Richard Baxter's view, Edward's "handling of the succession issue was dangerously
indecisive, and contributed to one of the greatest catastrophes to which the English
have ever succumbed."

He of course was making a reference to the Battle of

Edward the Confessors Norman sympathies are most evidenced in the major building
project of his reign, Westminster Abbey, the first Norman Romanesque church in
England. This was commenced between 1042 and 1052 as a royal burial church,
consecrated on 28 December 1065, completed after his death in about 1090, and
demolished in 1245 to make way for Henry the thirds new building, which still
stands. It was very similar to Jumiges Abbey, which was built at the same time.
Robert of Jumiges must have been closely involved in both buildings, although it is
not clear which is the original and which the copy.
Edward does not appear to have been interested in books and associated arts, but his
abbey played a vital role in the development of English Romanesque architecture,
showing that he was an innovating and generous patron of the church.
Edward the Confessor was the first Anglo-Saxon and the only king of England to be
canonised, but he was part of a tradition of (un-canonised) English royal saints, such
as Eadburh of Winchester, a daughter of Edward the Elder, Edith of Wilton, a
daughter of Edgar the Peaceful, and King Edward the Martyr. With his proneness to
fits of rage and love of hunting, Edward is regarded by most historians as an unlikely
saint, and his canonisation as political. Although some argue that his cult started so
early that it must have had something credible to build on.
Edward displayed a worldly attitude in his church appointments. When he appointed
Robert of Jumiges as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1051, he chose the leading
craftsman Spearhafoc to replace Robert as Bishop of London. Robert refused to
consecrate him, saying that the pope had forbidden it, but Spearhafoc occupied the
bishopric for several months with Edward's support. After the Godwins fled the
country, Edward expelled Spearhafoc, who fled with a large store of gold and gems
which he had been given to make Edward a crown. Stigand was the first archbishop of
Canterbury not to be a monk in almost a hundred years, and he was said to have been
excommunicated by several popes because he held Canterbury and Winchester in
plurality. Several bishops sought consecration abroad because of the irregularity of


Stigand's position. Edward usually preferred clerks to monks for the most important
and richest bishoprics, and he probably accepted gifts from candidates for bishoprics
and abbacies. However, his appointments were generally respectable.
After 1066 there was a subdued cult of Edward as a saint, possibly discouraged by the
early Norman Abbots of Westminster, which gradually increased in the early twelfth
century. Osbert of Clare, the prior of Westminster Abbey, then started to campaign for
Edward's canonization, aiming to increase the wealth and power of the Abbey. By
1138, he had converted the Vita dwardi, the life of Edward commissioned by his
widow, into a conventional saint's life.

He seized on an ambiguous passage which might have meant that their marriage was
chaste, perhaps to give the idea that Edith's childlessness was not her fault, to claim
that Edward had been celibate. In 1139 Osbert went to Rome to petition for Edward's
canonisation with the support of King Stephen, but he lacked the full support of the
English hierarchy and Stephen had quarreled with the church, so Pope Innocent II
postponed a decision, declaring that Osbert lacked sufficient testimonials of Edward's
In 1159 there was a disputed election to the papacy, and Henry the seconds support
helped to secure recognition of Pope Alexander III. In 1160 a new abbot of
Westminster, Laurence, seized the opportunity to renew Edward's claim. This time, it
had the full support of the king and the English hierarchy, and a grateful pope issued
the bull of canonization on 7 February 1161, the result of a conjunction of the
interests of Westminster Abbey, King Henry II and Pope Alexander III He was called
'Confessor' as the name for someone who was believed to have lived a saintly life but
was not a martyr. In the 1230s King Henry the third became attached to the cult of
Saint Edward, and he commissioned a new life by Matthew Paris. Henry also
constructed a grand new tomb for Edward in a rebuilt Westminster Abbey in 1269.

Until about 1350, Edmund the Martyr, Gregory the Great and Edward the Confessor
were regarded as English national saints, but Edward the third preferred the more war-


like figure of St George, and in 1348 he established the Order of the Garter with St
George as its patron. It was located at Windsor Castle, and its chapel of St Edward the
Confessor was re-dedicated to St George, who was acclaimed in 1351 as patron of the
English race. Edward was never a popular saint, but he was important to the Norman
dynasty, which claimed to be the successor of Edward as the last legitimate AngloSaxon king.

The shrine of Saint Edward the Confessor in Westminster Abbey remains where it
was after the final translation of his body to a chapel east of the sanctuary on 13
October 1269 by Henry the third. The day of his translation, 13 October (his first
translation had also been on that date in 1163), is regarded as his feast day, and each
October the Abbey holds a week of festivities and prayer in his honour. For some time
the Abbey had claimed that it possessed a set of coronation regalia that Edward had
left for use in all future coronations. Following Edward's canonisation, these were
regarded as holy relics, and thereafter they were used at all English coronations from
the 13th century until the destruction of the regalia by Oliver Cromwell in 1649.
October 13 is an optional feast day for Edward the Confessor for the Catholic Church
of England and Wales, and the Church of England's calendar of saints designates it as
a Lesser Festival. He is regarded as a patron saint of difficult marriages


LADY GODIVA wife of Leofric of Mercia

Godiva ( Old English: Godgifu), known as Lady Godiva, was an 11th-century AngloSaxon noblewoman who, according to a legend dating back at least to the 13th
century, rode naked through the streets of Coventry in order to gain a remission of the
oppressive taxation imposed by her husband on his tenants. The name "Peeping Tom"
for a voyeur originates from later versions of this legend in which a man named Tom
had watched her ride and was struck blind or dead.

Godiva was the wife of Leofric, Earl of Mercia. They had one proved son Aelfgar,
Earl of Mercia. Godiva's name occurs in charters and the Domesday survey, though
the spelling varies. The Old English name Godgifu or Godgyfu meant "gift of God";
Godiva was the Latinised version. Since the name was a popular one, there are many
contemporaries of the same name. If she is the same Godiva who appears in the
history of Ely Abbey, written at the end of the 12th century, then she was a widow
when Leofric married her. Both Leofric and Godiva were generous benefactors to
religious houses. In 1043 Leofric founded and endowed a Benedictine monastery at
Coventry on the site of a nunnery destroyed by the Danes in 1016. Godiva is cridited
as the persuasive force behind this act. In the 1050s, her name is coupled with that of
her husband on a grant of land to the monastery of St Mary Worcester, and the
endowment of the minster at Stow St Mary, Lincolnshire. She and her husband are
commemorated as benefactors of other monasteries at Leominster, Chester, Much


Wenlock and Evesham. She gave Coventry a number of works in precious metal
made for the purpose by the famous goldsmith Mannig, and bequeathed a necklace
valued at 100 marks of silver. Another necklace went to Evesham, to be hung around
the figure of the Virgin accompanying the life-size gold and silver rood she and her
husband gave. St Paul's Cathedral, London also received a gold-fringed chasuble. She
and her husband Leofric were among the most generous of the several large AngloSaxon donors of the last decades before the Norman Conquest. The early Norman
bishops made short work of these gifts, carrying them off to Normandy or melting
them down for bullion.

The manor of Woolhope in Herefordshire, along with four others, was given to the
Cathedral at Hereford before the Norman Conquest by the benefactresses Wulviva
and Godiva. This was usually held to be by Godiva and her sister. The church there
has a 20th-century stained glass window representing them.
After her husband Leofric's death in 1057, Godiva his widow lived on until sometime
between the Norman Conquest of 1066 and 1086. She is mentioned in the Domesday
survey as one of the few Anglo-Saxons, and the only woman to remain a major
landholder shortly after the conquest. By the time of this great survey in 1086, Godiva
had died, but her former lands are listed, although now held by others. Thus, Godiva
apparently died between 1066 and 1086.
The place where Godiva was buried has been a matter of debate. According to the
Evesham Chronicle, she was buried at the Church of the Blessed Trinity at Evesham,
which is no longer standing. According to the account in the Oxford Dictionary of
National Biography, There is no reason to doubt that she was buried with her husband
at Coventry, despite the assertion of the Evesham Chronicle that she lay in Holy
Trinity, Evesham. In 1656 it is said that a window with representations of Leofric and
Godiva was placed in Trinity Church, Coventry,at about the time of Richard the
The legend of the nude ride is first recorded in the 13th century, in the Flores
Historiarum and the adaptation of it by Roger of Wendover. Despite the Flores
Historiariums considerable age, it is not regarded as plausible by modern historians.
Nor is the nude ride mentioned in the two centuries intervening between Godiva's

death and the Flores Historiariums first appearance. Godivas generous donations to
the church however, receive various mentions.
According to the typical version of the story, Lady Godiva took pity on the people of
Coventry, who were suffering grievously under her husband's oppressive taxation.
Lady Godiva appealed again and again to her husband, who obstinately refused to
remit the tolls. At last, weary of her entreaties, he said he would grant her request if
she would strip naked and ride through the streets of the town.
Lady Godiva took him at his word and, after issuing a proclamation that all persons
should stay indoors and shut their windows, she rode through the town, clothed only
in her long hair.
Just one person in the town, a tailor ever afterwards known as Peeping Tom,
disobeyed her proclamation in one of the most famous instances of voyeurism. In the
story, the Peeping Tom bores a hole in his shutters so that he might see Godiva pass,
and he is struck blind. In the end, Godiva's husband keeps his word and abolishes the
onerous taxes.
Some historians have discerned elements of pagan fertility rituals in the Godiva story
whereby a young May Queen was led to the sacred Cofa's tree perhaps to celebrate
the renewal of spring. The oldest form of the legend has Godiva passing through
Coventry market from one end to the other while the people were assembled, attended
only by two knights. This version is given in Flores Historiarum by Roger of
Wendover, a somewhat gullible collector of anecdotes who quoted from unnamed
earlier writers.
Other attempts to find a more plausible rationale for the legend, include one based on
the custom at the time for penitents to make a public procession in their shift, which
was a sleeveless white garment similar to a slip today and one which was certainly
considered to be underwear. Thus Godiva might have actually travelled through town
as a penitent, in her shift. Another theory has it that Lady Godiva's nakedness might
have refered to her riding through the streets stripped of her jewellery, which was the
trademark of her upper class rank. However, both of these attempts to reconcile
known facts with legend are weak because at that time, the word naked is only known
to mean, without any clothing whatsoever


The story of Peeping Tom, who alone among the townsfolk spied on Lady Godiva
riding naked, did probably not originate in literature, but came up through popular
lore in the locality of Coventry. The Peeping Tom story is absent from the few
sources contemporary with Godiva and it has been pointed out that Tom (Thomas) is
not an Anglo-Saxon name, and therefore hardly likely to be a name of a townsperson
governed by Leoffric.
At that time Coventry was still a small settlement, with only 69 families and the
monastery, as recorded in the Domesday Book some decades later. Lastly, the only
recorded tolls were on horses.

Thus, it remains doubtful whether there is any

historical basis for the famous ride. The story is particularly doubtful since Countess
Godiva would herself have been responsible for setting taxation in Coventry.
As in Anglo-Saxon times the laws which excluded females from the inheritance of a
throne did not apply in Anglo-Saxon society. If only because of the nudity in the
story, its popularity has been maintained, and spread internationally, with many
references in modern popular culture.

The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, in

Coventry, maintains a permanent exhibition on the subject. The oldest painting was
commissioned by the County of the City of Coventry in 1586 and produced by Adam
van Noort, a refugee Flemish artist. His painting depicts a voluptuously displayed
Lady Godiva against the background of a fantastical Italianate Coventry.


HAROLD GODWINSON, or Harold the second (c. 1022 14 October 1066), was
the last Anglo-Saxon King of England. Harold reigned from 6 January 1066 until his
death at the Battle of Hastings on 14 October, fighting the Norman invaders led by
William the Conqueror during the Norman conquest of England

At the end of 1065, King Edward the Confessor fell into a coma without clarifying his
preference for the succession. He died on 5 January 1066, but not before briefly
regaining consciousness and commending his widow, and his kingdom, to Harold the
Earl of Wessexs protection. The intent of this charge is ambiguous, as is the Bayeux
Tapestry, which simply depicts Edward pointing at a man thought to represent Harold.
When the Witenagemot convened the next day, they selected Harold to succeed
Edward the Confessor and his coronation followed on 6 January, most likely at
Westminster Abbey; however there is no surviving evidence from the time to confirm
this. Although later Norman sources point to the suddenness of this Coronation, the
reason may have been that all the nobles of the land were present at Westminster for
the feast of Epiphany, and not because of any usurpation of the throne on Harold the
seconds part.

Also in January 1066, and on hearing that Harold the second had been crowned, Duke
William the second of Normandy began plans to invade by building 700 warships and


transports at Dives-sur-Mer on the Normandy coast. Initially, William the second of

Normandy could not get support for the invasion, but by claiming that Harold had
sworn on sacred relics to support Williams claim to the throne after having been
shipwrecked at Ponthieu, William was given the Church's blessing and Norman
nobles flocked to his cause. In anticipation of the invasion, Harold the second had
assembled his troops on the Isle of Wight, but Williams invasion fleet remained in
port for almost seven months, perhaps due to unfavorable winds.
On 8 September 1066 with provisions running out, Harold the second disbanded the
Isle of White army, and returned to London. On the same day, Harald Hardrada of
Norway who also claimed the English crown, had joined Tostig who was Harold the
seconds younger brother and who was banished by Edward the Confessor, joined
forces to invade England. Their fleet landed at the mouth of the River Tyne.
The invading forces of Hardrada and Tostig defeated the English Earls, Edwin of
Mercia and Morcar of Northumbria, at the Battle of Fulford near York on 20
September. Hardrada and Tostig were in turn defeated and slain by Harold the
seconds army, five days later at the Battle of Stamford Bridge. Harold the second,
having led his army north, on a four day forced march from London was able to catch
the army of Hardrada and Tostig by surprise.
It is said that before the Battle of Stamford Bridge, a man bravely rode up to Hardrada
and Tostig and offered Tostig his earldom if he would but turn on Harald Hardrada.
When Tostig asked what his brother Harold would be willing to give Harald Hardrada
for his trouble, the rider replied that he would be given seven feet of ground as he was
taller than other men. Harald Hardrada was impressed with the rider and asked Tostig
his name. Tostig replied that the rider was none other than Harold the second. It is,
however, unknown whether this conversation ever took place.

On 12 September, 1066 William's fleet sailed. Several ships sank in storms, and the
fleet was forced to take shelter at Saint-Valery-sur-Somme and wait for the wind to
change. On 27 September the Norman fleet finally set sail for England, arriving, it is


believed, the following day at Pevensey on the coast of East Sussex. Harold's army
marched 241 miles to intercept William, who had landed perhaps 7000 men in
Sussex, in the south of England.

Harold established his army in hastily built

earthworks near Hastings. The two armies clashed at the Battle of Hastings, at Senlac
Hill near the present town of Battle on 14 October, where after nine hours of hard
fighting Harold the second was killed and his forces were routed . Harolds brothers
Gyrth and Leofwine were also killed in the battle.
William the second of Normandy eventually became William the first of England and
is known as William the Conquerer.


The Battle of Hastings was fought on 14 October 1066 between the Norman-French
army of Duke William the second of Normandy and an English army under the
Anglo-Saxon King Harold the second. It took place approximately 11 kilometres
north-west of Hastings, close to the present-day town of Battle, East Sussex. The
battle was a decisive Norman victory.
Following the death of the childless King Edward the Confessor in January 1066.
This event set up a succession struggle between several claimants to the English
throne. Harold was crowned King shortly after Edward's death, but he faced invasions
by William of Normandy, Harolds own brother Tostig, and the Norwegian King
Harald Hardrada (Harold III of Norway).

Hardrada and Tostig defeated a hastily

gathered army of Englishmen at the Battle of Fulford on 20th September 1066, and
they were in turn defeated by Harold at the Battle of Stamford Bridge five days later.
Tostig and Hardrada both died during the Battle of Stamford Bridge which left
William of Normandy as Harold's only serious opponent.
While Harold and his forces were recovering from the Battle of Stamford, William
landed his invasion forces in the south of England at Pevensey on 28 September 1066,
and he established a beachhead for his conquest of the English kingdom. Harold was
forced to march south from Stamford Bridge swiftly, gathering forces as he went.


The exact numbers present at the Battle of Hastings are unknown; estimates are
around 10,000 for William and about 7000 for Harold. The composition of the forces
is however clearer. The English army was composed almost entirely of infantry and
had few archers, whereas about half of the invading force was infantry, with the rest
split equally between cavalry and archers. Harold appears to have tried to surprise
William, but scouts found his army and reported its arrival to William, who marched
from Hastings to the battlefield to confront Harold. The battle lasted from about 9 am
to dusk on the 14th October 1066. Early efforts of the invaders to break the English
battle lines had little effect; therefore, the Normans adopted the tactic of pretending to
flee in panic and then turning on their pursuers. Harold's death, from an arrow
piercing the eye was probably near the end of the battle, and it led to the retreat and
defeat of most of his army.
After the victory at the Battle of Hastings, William moved his army to the Northwest.
He and his army crossed the River Thames at Wallingford, where he received the
submission of Stigand the Archbishop of Canterbury and Winchester. He then
travelled north-east along the Chilterns, before turning south to advance towards
London from the north-west to fight further forces from the city of London. The
English leaders eventually surrendered to William at Berkhamsted Castle in
Hertfordshire, and he was proclaimed King of England. He was crowned King
William the First of England by Ealdred the Archbishop of York on 25 December
1066, in Westminster Abbey.[.
Although there continued to be some rebellions and resistance to William's rule. The
Battle of Hastings effectively marked the culmination of William of Normandys
conquest of England. Casualty figures are hard to come by, but some historians
estimate that 2000 invaders died along with about twice that number of Englishmen.
William founded a monastery at the site of the battle. The high altar of the abbey
church supposedly placed at the spot where Harold died.


WILLIAM THE FIRST also known as William the Conqueror and William the
Bastard because of his believed illegitimate parentage ruled England until his death in
1087. Apart from defeating Harold at the Battle of Hastings, William the first is also
known for obtaining an inventory of England assets in a survey called the Doomsday
Survey or the Doomsday Book.
On a visit to Normandy towards the end of 1086 King William the First fell ill and he
died early in 1087. William the First, left the kingdom of Normandy to Robert his
first son, and the custody of England was given to William's second surviving son,
who was also called William. This was on the assumption that William would become
King of England. William the Firsts youngest son, Henry, received money. On 7th
September 1086 after stating his intention to entrust England to his second son,
William the First sent his son William back to England bearing a letter to Lanfranc
the Archbishop of Canterbury. The letter ordered the archbishop to aid the new king.
Other bequests included gifts to the Church and money to be distributed to the poor.
William the First also ordered that all of his prisoners be released, including his halfbrother Odo


Disorder followed William the Firsts in death in Normandy; everyone who had been
at his deathbed left the body at Rouen and hurried off to attend to their own affairs.
Eventually, the clergy of Rouen arranged to have the body sent to Caen, where
William had desired to be buried in his foundation of the Abbaye-aux-Hommes. The
funeral, attended by the Bishops and Abbots of Normandy as well as his son Henry,
was disturbed by the assertion of a citizen of Caen who alleged that his family had
been illegally despoiled of the land on which the church was built. After hurried
consultations the allegation was shown to be true, and the man was compensated. A
further indignity occurred when the corpse of William the first was lowered into the
tomb. The corpse was too large for the space, and when attendants forced the body
into the tomb it burst, spreading a disgusting odour throughout the church.

William the Firsts grave is currently marked by a marble slab with a Latin
inscription. The tomb has been disturbed several times since 1087, the first time in
1522 when the grave was opened on orders from the papacy. The intact body was
restored to the tomb at that time, but in 1562, during the French Wars of Religion, the
grave was reopened and the bones scattered and lost, with the exception of one thigh
bone. This lone relic was reburied in 1642 with a new marker, which was replaced
100 years later with a more elaborate monument. This tomb was again destroyed
during the French Revolution, but was eventually replaced with the current marble
slab early in the 19th century.
William the first had five sons. His first son Robert inherited the kingdom of
Normandy. The next son did not survive. The third son, William, who succeeded his
father and became William the second of England, Henry, the fourth son, who
eventually succeeded William the second to become Henry the first of England, and
Stephen, the fifth son who married Matilda of Boulogne and produced a son Stephen
who eventually became Stephen the first of England
In 1087 William the firsts second son succeeded his father to the English crown and
became William the second of England.





is a manuscript that records the great survey of

much of England and parts of Wales. It was completed in 1086. The survey was
executed for William I of England (William the Conqueror). While spending the
Christmas time of 1085 in Gloucester, after a consultation with his counsellors
William the first sent men all over England into each shire to find out what or how
much each landholder had in land and livestock, and what it was worth One of the
main purposes of the survey was to determine who held what and what taxes had been
liable under Edward the Confessor. The judgement of the Domesday assessors was
final, and whatever they reported about who held the material wealth, or what it was
worth was absolute and there was no appeal. The Doomsday Book was written in
Latin, although there were some words inserted for terms that had no previous Latin
equivalent. The text was also highly abbreviated.

The manuscript is held at The

National Archives, Kew, in South West London. In August 2006, a limited online
version of Domesday Book was made available by the United Kingdom's National
Archives site, charging users 2 per page to view the manuscript. In 2011, the Open
Domesday site made the manuscript freely available for the first time. A survey
approaching the scope and extent of the Domesday Book was not attempted until the


Return of Owners of Land, in 1873, which presented the first subsequent complete
picture of the distribution of landed property in the British Isles, and is thus
sometimes referred to as the Modern Domesday

The Domesday Book is really two independent works. One, known as Little
Domesday, covers Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex. The other, Great Domesday, covers
much of the remainder of England and parts of Wales, except for lands in the north
which later became Westmorland, Cumberland, Northumberland, and the County
Palatine of Durham. There are also no surveys of London, Winchester, and some
other towns. The omission of these two major cities is probably due to their taxexempt status, not their size and complexity.

Most of Cumberland and Westmorland are missing because they were not conquered
until some time after the survey, and County Durham is missing as the Bishop of
Durham, William de St-Calais, had the exclusive right to tax Durham. Parts of the
north east of England were covered by the 1183 Boldon Book, which listed those
areas liable to tax by the Bishop of Durham. The omission of the other counties has
not been fully explained. Despite its name, Little Domesday was larger, as it is far
more detailed, it goes down to numbers of livestock. It is possible that Little
Domesday represents a first attempt, and that it was found impossible, or at least
inconvenient, to complete the work on the same scale for Great Domesday.
For both volumes, the contents of the returns were entirely rearranged and classified
according to manors, rather than geographic areas. Instead of appearing by hundred or
by township, holdings appear under the names of the landholders. The book was for
the most part a large scale tax return and it was significantly unpopular. In each
county, the list opened with the holdings of the King and which possibly had formed
the subject of separate inquiry. These lists were followed by those of the churchmen
and religious houses in order of status, for example, the Archbishop of Canterbury is


always listed before other bishops, followed by the lay tenants-in-chief again in
approximate order of status and lastly the King's servants who retained land.
In some counties, one or more principal towns formed the subject of a separate
section. And any disputed titles to land were similarly treated separately. This
principle applies more specially to the larger volume. In the smaller one, the system
is more confuse, and the execution less perfect.
Domesday names a total of 13,418 places. Apart from the wholly rural portions,
which constitute its bulk. Domesday contains entries of interest concerning most of
the towns, which were probably made because of their bearing on the fiscal rights of
the crown. These include the fragments of older customary agreements, the records of
the military service due, and the records of markets, mints, and so forth. From the
towns, from the counties as wholes, and from many of its ancient lordships, the crown
was entitled to archaic dues in kind, such as honey. The information of most general
interest contained in the Doomsday Book, is that concerning political, personal,
ecclesiastical, and social history. This is information that only occurs sporadically
and seemingly by accident.
From the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle it is known that the planning for the survey was
conducted in 1085, and from the book itself it is known that the survey was completed
in 1086. It is not known when exactly the Doomsday Book was compiled, but the
entire copy of Great Domesday appears to have been copied out by one person on
parchment (prepared sheepskin), although six scribes seem to have been used for
Little Domesday. During the survey, most shires were visited by a group of royal
officers, who held a public inquiry, probably in the great assembly known as the shire
court. The public enquiry was attended by representatives of every township as well
as by the local lords. The unit of inquiry was the Hundred, a subdivision of the
county, which then was an administrative entity, and the return for each Hundred was
sworn to by twelve local jurors, half of them English and half of them Normans.
What is believed to be a full transcript of these original returns is preserved for
several of the Cambridgeshire Hundreds and is of great illustrative importance.
Through comparison of the details recorded and in which counties, six distict areas
can be determined.


1.Berkshire, Hampshire, Kent, Surrey, Sussex

2.Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Wiltshire (Exeter Domesday)
3.Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Middlesex
4.Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire
5.Cheshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Worcestershire, the
6.Derbyshire, Huntingdonshire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire.
Although it can by no means be reconciled in every detail, it is now generally
recognised that the primary object of the survey was to ascertain and record the fiscal
rights of the king which were:

The national land-tax, to be paid on a fixed assessment,

The payment of miscellaneous taxes and dues.

The proceeds of the crown lands.

After a great political upheaval such as the Norman conquest, and the wholesale
confiscation of the landed estates which followed it. It was in William the firsts
interest to make sure that the rights of the crown, which he claimed to have inherited,
had not sufferred in the process. More especially as was the case of his Norman
followers who were disposed to evade the liabilities of their English predecessors.
The successful trial of the Norman Odo de Bayeux at Penenden Heath less than a
decade after the conquest was one example of the growing discontent at the Norman
land-grab that had occurred in the years following the Norman invasion. The survey
has since been viewed in the context that William required certainty and a definitive
reference point as to property holdings across the nation so that it might be used as
evidence in any disputes and purported authority for crown ownership.
The Domesday survey therefore, recorded the names of the new holders of lands and
the assessments on which their tax was to be paid. On the William the firsts
instructions however, it did more than this.

It endeavoured to make a national

valuation list, estimating the annual value of all the land in the country, at the time of
Edward the Confessor's death, at the time when the new owners received it, and at the


time of the survey. Furthermore it reckoned, by command, the future potential value
as well. It is evident that William desired to know the current financial resources of
his kingdom, and it is probable that he wished to compare them with the previous
assessment, which was one of considerable antiquity, though there is evidence that it
had been occasionally modified. The great bulk of the Domesday Book is devoted to
the somewhat dry and boring details of the assessment and valuation of rural estates,
which were as yet the only important source of national wealth. After stating the
assessment of the manor, the record sets forth the amount of arable land, and the
number of plough teams each reckoned at eight oxen that were available for working
it, plus the additional number (if any) that might be employed. It also stated the rivermeadows, woodland, pasture, fisheries, water-mills, salt-pans (if by the sea) and other
subsidiary sources of revenue. The peasants are enumerated in their several classes;
and finally the annual value of the whole, past and present, is roughly estimated. It is
obvious that, both in its values and in its measurements, the survey's reckoning is very

The rearrangement, on a feudal basis, of the original returns enabled William the
Conqueror and his officers to see with ease the extent of a baron's possessions, but it
also had the effect of showing how far he had engaged under-tenants, and who those
under-tenants were. This was of great importance to William, not only for military
reasons, but also because of his firm resolve to make the under-tenants swear
allegiance directly to himself. Because the Domesday Book only records the Christian
name of an under-tenant, it is not possible to search for the surnames of those families
claiming a Norman origin. But an attempt was made to identify the under-tenants, the
great bulk of whom bear foreign Christian names.
To a large extent, it comes down to the king being able to know where he should look
when he needed to raise money. It therefore includes sources of income but not sinks
of expenditure such as castles, unless their mention is needed to explain discrepancies
between pre-and post-Conquest holdings. Typically, this happened in a town, where
separately-recorded properties had been demolished to make way for a castle.
The Domesday Book was originally preserved in the royal treasury at Winchester (the
Norman kings' capital). It was originally referred to as the Book of Winchester, and


refers to itself as such in a late edition. When the treasury moved to Westminster,
probably under Henry the second, the book went with it. In the Middle Ages, its
evidence was frequently invoked in the law-courts; and even now, there are certain
cases in which appeal is made to its testimony.
It remained in Westminster until the days of Queen Victoria, being preserved from
1696 onwards in the Chapter House, and only removed in special circumstances, such
as when it was sent to Southampton for reproduction. The Domesday Book was
eventually placed in the Public Record Office, London. It can be now seen in a glass
case in the museum at The National Archives in Kew, which is in the London
Borough of Richmond upon Thames in South West London. In 1869, it received a
modern binding. Most recently, the two books were rebound for its ninth centenary in
1986, when Great Domesday was divided into two volumes and Little Domesday was
divided into three volumes. The ancient Domesday chest, in which it used to be kept,
is also preserved in the building at Kew.

The printing of Domesday, was begun by the government in 1773, and the book was
published, in two volumes, in 1783. In 1811, a volume of indexes was added, and in
1816 a supplementary volume separately indexed was added. The Exon Domesday,
for the south-western counties containg:
1. The Inquisitio Eliensis
2. The Liber Wintonsurveys of Winchester late in the 12th century.
3. The Boldon Bukea survey of the bishopric of Durham a century later than
Photographic facsimiles of the Domesday Book, for each county separately, were
published in 18611863, also by the government. Today, Domesday Book is available
in numerous editions, usually separated by county and available with other local
history resources.
The importance of the Domesday Book for the understanding of the period in which it
was written is difficult to overstate.


WILLIAM 11 (c.1056 2 August 1100), was the third son of William the
Conqueror. On his fathers death he became William the second of England, and was
King of England from 1087 until 1100.

He had powers over Normandy, and

influence in Scotland. He was less successful in extending control into Wales.

William the second is commonly known as William Rufus or William the Red,
perhaps because of his red-faced appearance.
He was a figure of complex temperament: capable of both bellicosity and
flamboyance. He did not marry, nor did he produce any offspring, legitimate or
otherwise. He died after being struck by an arrow while hunting, under circumstances
that remain murky. Circumstantial evidence in the behaviour of those around him
raises strong but unproven suspicions of murder. His younger brother Henry hurriedly
succeeded him as king.
He was said to be a tumultuous, devil-may-care soldier, without natural dignity or
social graces, with no cultivated tastes and little show of conventional religious piety
or morality. Indeed, according to his critics, he was addicted to every kind of vice,
particularly lust and especially sodomy. On the other hand he was a wise ruler and
victorious general, and his chivalrous virtues and achievements were all too obvious.


He had maintained good order, had administered satisfactory justice in England and
restored peace to Normandy. He extended Anglo-Norman rule in Wales, and brought
Scotland firmly under his lordship. On his death in 1100 he was succeeded by his
younger brother Henry.

HENRY 1 (c. 1068 1 December 1135), also known as Henry Beauclerc, was King
of England from 1100 to 1135. Henry was the fourth son of William the Conqueror
and was educated in Latin and the liberal arts. On William the Conquerors death in
1087, Henry's older brothers William Rufus and Robert Curthose inherited the crowns
England and Normandy respectively, and brother Henry was left landless. Henry
purchased the County of Cotentin in Western Normandy from his brother Robert, and
in 1091 both brothers William Rufus and Robert Curthose deposed him to Normandy.
Henry gradually rebuilt his power base in western Normandy and allied himself with
brother William who was now William the second, against their brother Robert.
Henry was with William when he died in a hunting accident in 1100, and as Williams
brother he took the opportunity to seize the English throne, and he became Henry the
first of England. He promised at his coronation to correct many of William the
seconds less popular policies. Henry married Matilda of Scotland but continued to
have a large number of mistresses, by whom he had many illegitimate children.
Brother Robert Curthose invaded England from Normandy in 1101. He disputed
Henry's control of England. The military campaign ended in a negotiated settlement
that confirmed Henry the first, as king of England. The peace however, was short-


lived, and Henry the first invaded his brother Roberts land in Normandy in 1105 and
1106. This land was known as the Duchy of Normandy. Henry the first finally
defeated his brother Robert at the Battle of Tinchebray. Henry the first then took
control of Normandy and kept Robert his brother imprisoned for the rest of his life.
Henry the firsts control over Normandy was challenged by Louis the sixth of France,
Baldwin of Flanders and Fulk of Anjou. These three promoted the rival claims of
Henrys brother Robert's son William, and they supported a major rebellion in the
Duchy between 1116 and 1119.

Following however, Henry the firsts decisive

victory at the Battle of Brmule in 1120, a favourable peace settlement was agreed
with Louis the sixth.
Considered by contemporaries to be a harsh but effective ruler, Henry the first
skilfully manipulated the barons in England and Normandy. In England, he drew on
the existing Anglo-Saxon system of justice, local government and taxation, but also
strengthened it with additional institutions, including the royal exchequer and itinerant
Normandy was also governed through a growing system of justices and an exchequer.
Many of the officials that ran Henry's system were "new men," relatively low-born
individuals who rose through the ranks as administrators. Henry encouraged
ecclesiastical reform, but became embroiled in a serious dispute in 1101 with
Archbishop Anselm of Canterbury, which was resolved through a compromise
solution in 1105.
Henry the first had one only legitimate son and heir, William Adelin. William
drowned in the White Ship disaster of 1120, throwing the royal succession into doubt.
Henry took a second wife, Adeliza, in the hope of having another son, but their
marriage was childless. Henry the first then declared his only daughter, Matilda, as his
heir and married her to Geoffrey of Anjou. Relationships between Henry the first and
the married couple however became strained, and fighting broke out along the border
with Anjou. Henry the first, died on 1 December 1135 after a week of illness. Despite
his plans for Matilda, the King was succeeded by his brothers son Stephen. Stephens
father also named Stephen had died and Stephen the older was the fifth son of
William the Conqueror.

Stephen had married a French noble lady, Matlida of


Boulogne, and from whom he obtained his title Stephen of Blois. The succession of
Stephen to the English crown resulted in a period of civil war known as the Anarchy.


The White Ship was a vessel that sank in the English Channel near the Normandy
coast off Barfleur, on 25 November 1120. Only two of those aboard survived. Those
who drowned included William Adelin, the only surviving legitimate son and heir of
King Henry the first of England. William Adelin's death led to a succession crisis and
a period of civil war in England known as the Anarchy.
The White Ship was a new vessel captained by Thomas FitzStephen, whose father
Stephen FitzAirard had been captain of the ship Mora for William the Conqueror
when he invaded England in 1066 Thomas FitzStephen offered his ship to Henry the
first of England to use it to return to England from Barfleur in Normandy.

Henry had already made other arrangements, but Henry allowed many of those in his
retinue to take the White Ship. Those on the White ship including his legitimate son
and heir, William Adelin, his illegitimate son Richard of Lincoln his illegitimate
daughter Matilda FitzRoy, Countess of Perche; and many other nobles. It is said that
much wine was drunk and by the time the ship was ready to leave Barfleur there were
about 300 people on board although some had disembarked before the ship sailed due
to the excessive drinking.
The ship's captain, Thomas FitzStephen, was ordered by the revelers to overtake the
king's ship which had already sailed. The White Ship was fast, of the best construction
and had recently been fitted with new materials which made the captain and crew
confident they could reach England first. But when it set off in the dark, its port side
struck a submerged rock and the ship quickly capsized. William Adelin had got into a
small boat and could have escaped but he turned back to try to rescue his half-sister,
Matilda the countess of Perche when he heard her cries for help. His boat was
swamped by others trying to save themselves, and William drowned along with them.
Only two survived by clinging to the rock all night; one was a butcher from Rouen,
and the second was Geoffrey de l'Aigle. It is further claimed that when Thomas


FitzStephen, the captain of the White ship came to the surface after the sinking and he
learned that William Adelin had not survived, he let himself drown rather than face
the wrath of .Henry the first.
The cause of the shipwreck remains uncertain and various stories surround its loss.
The most frequently aired version of events is that of a drinking binge by the crew and
A direct result of William Adelin's death was the period known as the Anarchy. The
White Ship disaster had left Henry the first with only one legitimate child, a daughter
named Matilda. Although Henry the first had forced his barons to swear an oath to
support Matilda as his heir on several occasions, a woman had never ruled in England
in her own right. Matilda was also unpopular because she was married to Geoffrey V,
the Count of Anjou, who was a traditional enemy of England's Norman nobles. Upon
Henry's death in 1135, the English barons were reluctant to accept Matilda as Queen.

One of Henry the firsts male relatives, Stephen of Blois, who was his nephew by his
younger brother Stephen, usurped Matilda as well as Stephens older brothers William
and Theobald to become King. Stephen of Blois had allegedly planned to travel on the
White Ship but had disembarked just before it sailed. It is said that this was attributed
this to a sudden bout of diarrhea.
After Henry the firsts death, Matilda, Henrys daughter and her husband Geoffrey of
Anjou, the founder of the Plantagenet dynasty, launched a long and devastating war
against Stephen and his allies for control of the English throne. The Anarchy dragged
from 1135 to 1153 with devastating effect, especially in southern England.

STEPHEN (c. 1092/6 25 October 1154), often referred to as Stephen of Blois, was
a grandson of William the Conqueror by Williams fifth son Stephen. He was King of
England from 1135 to his death in 1154. He was also the Count of Boulogne, a title
due to his marriage to Matilda of Boulogne. Stephen's reign was marked by the
Anarchy, which was a civil war with his cousin and rival Matilda of Anjou, who was
Henry the Firsts only daughter. On his death in 1154 Stephen was succeeded by
Matilda of Anjous son, who became Henry the second, the first of the Angevin kings.


Stephen was born in the County of Blois in middle France.

His father, Count

Stephen, was another son of William the first. Count Stephen died while Stephen was
still young, and Stephen was brought up by his mother, Adela. Stephen was placed
into the court of his uncle, Henry the first, and he rose in prominence and was granted
extensive lands. Stephen married Matilda of Boulogne, inheriting additional estates in
Kent and Boulogne. It was this that made the couple one of the wealthiest in England.
Stephen narrowly escaped drowning with Henry the firsts son, William Adelin, in the
sinking of the White Ship in 1120. Stephen had sailed in the ship carrying Henry the
first. William Adelins death left the succession of the English throne open to
challenge. When Henry the first died in 1135, Stephen quickly crossed the English
Channel and with the help of his brother Henry of Blois, a powerful ecclesiastic, took
the English throne, arguing that the preservation of order across the kingdom took
priority over his earlier oaths to support the claim of Henry the firsts daughter
The early years of Stephen's reign were largely successful, despite a series of attacks
on his possessions in England and Normandy from David the first of Scotland, Welsh
rebels, and Matilda's husband, Geoffrey of Anjou. In 1138, Matilda of Anjous halfbrother Robert of Gloucester rebelled against Stephen, threatening civil war. Together
with his close advisor, Waleran de Beaumont, Stephen took firm steps to defend his
rule, including arresting a powerful family of bishops. When Matilda of Anjou and
Robert of Gloucester invaded in 1139, however, Stephen was unable to rapidly crush
the revolt and it took hold in the south-west of England. Stephen was eventually
captured at the Battle of Lincoln in 1141. Stephen was abandoned by many of his
followers and he lost control of Normandy. Stephen was freed only after his wife
Matilda of Boulogne, together with William of Ypres, one of Stephens military
commanders, captured Robert of Gloucester at the Rout of Winchester, but the war
still dragged on for many years with neither side able to win an advantage.
Stephen became increasingly concerned with ensuring that his son Eustace would
inherit his throne after him. Stephen attempted to convince the Church to agree to
crown Eustace to reinforce his claim; Pope Eugene III refused, and Stephen found
himself in a sequence of increasingly bitter arguments with his senior clergy. In 1153 ,


Henry FitzEmpress, who was the son of Matilda of Anjou who was Henry the firsts
daughter, invaded England and built an alliance of powerful regional barons to
support Matilda of Anjou and her son Henry FitzEmpresss claim to the throne.

EMPRESS MATILDA (c.7 February 1102 10 September 1167), also known as the
Empress Maude or Matilda of England, was the leader of one of the factions in the
English civil war known as the Anarchy. The daughter of King Henry the first of
England, she moved to Germany as a child when she married the future Holy Roman
Emperor Henry V. She travelled with her husband into Italy in 1116 and was,
controversially, crowned in St. Peter's Basilica, before then acting as the imperial
regent in Italy. Matilda and Henry had no children, and when he died in 1125, the
crown was claimed by Lothair II, one of his political enemies.

Meanwhile, Matilda's younger brother, William Adelin, died in the White Ship
disaster of 1120, leaving England facing a potential succession crisis. Matilda was
sent to Normandy by her father Henry the first who arranged for her to marry
Geoffrey of Anjou to form an alliance to protect his southern borders. Henry the first
had no further children and he nominated Matilda as his heir, making his court swear
an oath of loyalty to her and her successors. But the decision was not popular in the
Anglo-Norman court. Henry the first died in 1135 but Matilda and Geoffrey of Anjou
faced opposition from the Norman barons and were unable to pursue their claims to
the throne. The throne was instead taken by Matilda's cousin Stephen of Blois, who
enjoyed the backing of the English Church. Stephen took steps to solidify his new
regime, but faced threats both from neighbouring powers and from opponents within
his kingdom.
In 1139 Matilda crossed into England to take the kingdom by force. She was
supported by her half-brother, Robert of Gloucester and her uncle, King David I of
Scotland, while Geoffrey her husband focused on conquering Normandy. Matilda's
forces captured Stephen the first at the Battle of Lincoln in 1141, but the Empress's
attempt to be crowned at Westminster collapsed in the face of bitter opposition from


the London crowds. As a result of this retreat, Matilda was never formally declared
Queen of England, and was instead entitled the Lady of the English. Robert was
captured following the Rout of Winchester in 1142, and Matilda agreed to exchange
him for Stephen. Matilda became trapped in Oxford Castle by Stephen's forces that
winter, and was forced to escape across the River Isis at night to avoid capture. The
war degenerated into a stalemate, with Matilda controlling much of the south-west of
England, Stephen the south-east and the Midlands, with large parts of the rest of the
country in the hands of local barons.
Later that year in 1153, Stephen and Henry FitzEmpress the son of Matilda of Anjou
agreed to the Treaty of Winchester, in which Stephen recognised Henry as his heir in
exchange for peace. Stephen's son William was passed over by this agreement.
Stephen died the following year, and Henry FitzEmpress, Matilda of Anjous son and
a grandson of Henry the first succeeded to the English crown. Henry FitzEmpress
became Henry the second of England.


HENRY 11 (5 March 1133 6 July 1189), also known as Henry Curtmantle,
Henry FitzEmpress or Henry Plantagenet, ruled as Count of Anjou, Count of
Maine, Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Count of Nantes, King of England
(115489) and Lord of Ireland; at various times, he also controlled Wales, Scotland
and Brittany. Henry was the son of Geoffrey and Matilda of Anjou who was the
daughter of Henry the first of England.
Henry the second, became actively involved by the age of 14 in his mother's efforts to
claim the throne of England which was then occupied by Stephen of Blois. Henry the
second was made Duke of Normandy at 17, and he inherited Anjou in 1151 and he
shortly afterwards married Eleanor of Aquitaine, whose marriage to Louis VII of
France had recently been annulled. King Stephen of England agreed to a peace treaty
after Henry's military expedition to England in 1153: Henry the second, son of
Matilda of Anjou and grandson of Henry the first inherited the English kingdom on
Stephen's death a year later in 1154.


Henry was an energetic and sometimes ruthless ruler, driven by a desire to restore the
lands and privileges of his grandfather, Henry the first. During the early years of his
reign he restored the royal administration in England, re-established control over
Wales and gained full control over his lands in Anjou, Maine and Touraine. Henry's
desire to reform the relationship with the Church led to conflict with his former friend
Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury. This controversy lasted for much of
the 1160s and eventually resulted in Becket's murder in 1170. Henry soon came into
conflict with Louis VII and the two rulers fought what has been called a "cold war"
over several decades. Henry expanded his empire, often at Louis' expense, taking
Brittany and pushing east into central France and south into Toulouse. Despite
numerous peace conferences and treaties no lasting agreement was reached. By 1172,
Henry the second controlled England, large parts of Wales, the eastern half of Ireland
and the western half of France, an area that would later come to be called the Angevin

Henry and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine had eight children. As they grew up, tensions
over the future inheritance of the Angevin empire began to emerge.
encouraged by Louis V11 and his son King Philip II.

This was

In 1173 Henry the seconds

oldest son and heir apparent, "The Young Henry", rebelled in protest and he was
joined by his younger brothers Richard and Geoffrey and by their mother Eleanor of
Aquitaine. France, Scotland, Flanders and Boulogne also allied themselves with the
four rebels. The ensuing rebellion was known as the Great Revolt and was only
defeated by vigorous military action and talented local commanders, many of them
"new men" who were appointed for their loyalty and administrative skills. Young
Henry and his brother Geoffrey revolted again in 1183. This rebellion resulted in the
death of the heir apparent Young Henry the eldest son of Henry the second.
The Norman invasion of Ireland had provided lands for John who was Henry the
seconds youngest son, but Henry the second struggled to find ways to satisfy all his
sons' desires for land and immediate power. King Philip 11 successfully played on
Henry the seconds older son Richard who feared, that Henry the second would pass
the throne to his younger brother John A final rebellion broke out in 1189. Henry the
second was decisively defeated by King Philip11 and Henry the seconds son


Richard. Suffering from a bleeding ulcer, Henry the second retreated to Chinon in
Anjou, where he died in 1199. Henry the second was succeeded by his second oldest
son Richard who became Richard the first of England.
Henry's empire quickly collapsed during the reign of his son Richard. Many of the
changes Henry the second introduced during his long rule, however, had long-term
consequences. Henry's legal changes are generally considered to have laid the basis
for the English Common Law, while his intervention in Brittany, Wales and Scotland
shaped the development of their societies and governmental systems. Historical
interpretations of Henry the seconds reign have changed considerably over time. In
the 18th century, scholars argued that Henry was a driving force in the creation of a
genuinely English monarchy and, ultimately, a unified Britain.


Thomas Becket (also known as Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Thomas of London
and later Thomas Becket (c. 1118 (or 1120) 29 December 1170)) was Archbishop
of Canterbury from 1162 until his murder in 1170. He is venerated as a saint and
martyr by both the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. He engaged in
conflict with Henry the second of England over the rights and privileges of the
Church and was murdered by followers of the king in Canterbury Cathedral. Soon
after his death, he was canonized by Pope Alexander III.
Becket was born in 1118 or in 1120 according to later tradition. He was born in
Cheapside, London, on 21 December, which was the feast day of St Thomas the
Apostle. He was the son of Gilbert Beket and his wife Matilda. Gilbert's father was
from Thierville in the lordship of Brionne in Normandy, and was either a small
landowner or a petty knight. Matilda was also of Norman ancestry and her family may
have originated near Caen. Gilbert was perhaps related to Theobald of Bec, whose
family also was from Thierville. Gilbert began his life as a merchant, perhaps as a
textile merchant, but by the 1120s he was living in London and was a property-owner,


living on the rental income from his properties. He also served as the sheriff of the
city at some point. Both parents were buried in Old St Paul's Cathedral.
One of Becket's father's rich friends, Richer de L'Aigle, often invited the young
Thomas Becket to his estates in Sussex where Becket was exposed to hunting and
hawking. According to Grim, Becket learned much from Richer. Richer was later a
signatory at the Constitutions of Clarendon against Thomas
Beginning when he was 10 years old, Thomas Becket was sent as a student to Merton
Priory in England and later attended a grammar school in London, perhaps the one at
St Paul's Cathedral. Later, he spent about a year in Paris around age 20. He did not,
however, study canon or civil law at this time and his Latin skills have always
remained somewhat rudimentary. Sometime after Becket began his schooling, Gilbert
Beke, Thomass father had financial problems, and the young Thomas Becket was
forced to earn a living as a clerk. Gilbert first secured a place for his son in the
business of a relative Osbert Huitdeniers, and then later Becket acquired a position in
the household of Theobald of Bec, who was the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Theobald of Bec entrusted Thomas Becket with several important missions to Rome
and also sent him to Bologna and Auxerre to study canon law. In 1154, Theobald of
Bec the Archbishop named Thomas Becket as Archdeacon of Canterbury. Other
ecclesiastical offices included a number of benefices and prebends at Lincoln
Cathedral and St Paul's Cathedral, and the office of Provost of Beverley. Thomas
Beckets efficiency in those posts led to Theobald of Bec recommending him to King
Henry the second for the vacant post of Lord Chancellor, to which Becket was
appointed in January 1155
As Lord Chancellor, Thomas Becket controlled the Kings traditional sources of
revenue that were exacted from all landowners, including churches and bishoprics.
King Henry the second even sent his son Henry to live in Becket's household, it being
the custom then for noble children to be fostered out to other noble houses. The
younger Henry was reported to have said Becket showed him more fatherly love in a
day than his father did for his entire life. An emotional attachment to Becket as a
foster-father may have been one of the reasons the younger Henry would eventually
turn against his father.


Becket was nominated to the post of Archbishop of Canterbury in 1162, several

months after the death of Theobald of Bec. His election was confirmed on 23 May
1162 by a royal council of bishops and noblemen. Henry the second may have hoped
that Archbishop Thomas Becket would continue to put the royal government first,
rather than that of the church. The famous transformation of Becket into an ascetic
occurred at this time. Becket was ordained a priest on 2 June 1162 at Canterbury, and
on 3 June 1162 was consecrated as archbishop by Henry of Blois, the Bishop of
A rift grew between Henry the second and Thomas Becket when the new archbishop
resigned his chancellorship and sought to recover and extend the rights of the
archbishopric. This led to a series of conflicts with Henry the second, including that
over the jurisdiction of secular courts over English clergymen, which accelerated
antipathy between Becket and the King. Attempts by Henry the second to influence
the other bishops against Thomas Becket began in Westminster in October 1163,
where the King sought approval of the traditional rights of the royal government in
regard to the church.
This led to the events at Clarendon Palace, where Archbishop Thomas Becket was
officially asked to sign off on the Kings rights or face political repercussions..
Henry the second presided over the assemblies of most of the higher English clergy at
Clarendon Palace on 30 January 1164. In sixteen constitutions, Henry sought less
clerical independence and a weaker connection with Rome. He employed all his skills
to induce their consent and was apparently successful with all but Archbishop Thomas
Becket. Finally Archbishop Thomas Becket expressed his willingness to agree to the
substance of the Constitutions of Clarendon, but he still refused to formally sign the

Henry the second summoned Archbishop Thomas Becket to appear

before a great council at Northampton Castle on 8 October 1164. This was to answer
allegations of contempt of royal authority and malpractice when in the office of
Chancellor. Archbishop Thomas Becket was convicted on the charge. He stormed
out of the trial and fled to the Continent
Henry the second pursued the fugitive Archbishop with a series of edicts, aimed at all
his friends and supporters as well as Becket himself; but King Louis VII of France
offered Thomas Becket protection, and Becket spent nearly two years in the


Cistercian Abbey of Pontigny. Henry's threats against the Cistercian order continued,
and Archbishop Thomas Becket fought back by threatening excommunication against
the Henry the second. His bishops supported this action, but Pope Alexander III,
although sympathising with him in theory, favoured a more diplomatic approach.
Papal advisers were sent to England in 1167 with authority to act as arbitrators.
In 1170, Pope Alexander sent delegates to impose a solution to the dispute. At that
point, Henry the second offered a compromise that allowed Archbishop Thomas
Becket to return to England from exile.
In June 1170, Roger de Pont L'vque, the Archbishop of York, along with Gilbert
Foliot, the Bishop of London, and Josceline de Bohon, the Bishop of Salisbury,
conducted a coronation ceremony to confirm Henry who was the oldest son of Henry
the second as the heir apparent.

This was a breach of Canterbury's privilege of

coronation, and in November 1170 Becket excommunicated all three of the Bishops.
While the three clergymen fled to the king in Normandy, Archbishop Thomas Becket
continued to excommunicate his opponents in the church, the news of which also
reached Henry the second.
Upon hearing reports of Archbishop Thomas Becket's actions, Henry the second is
said to have uttered words that were interpreted by his men as wishing Becket killed.
The king's exact words are in doubt and several versions have been reported. The
most commonly quoted, as handed down by oral tradition, is "Will no one rid me of
this turbulent priest but according to historian Simon Schama this is incorrect: he
accepts the account of the contemporary biographer Edward Grim, writing in Latin,
who gives us "What miserable drones and traitors have I nourished and brought up in
my household, who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a lowborn cleric Many variations have found their way into popular culture.
Whatever Henry the second said, it was interpreted as a royal command, and four
knights, Reginald fitzUrse, Hugh de Morville, William de Tracy, and Richard le
Breton, set out to confront the Archbishop of Canterbury.
On 29 December 1170 they arrived at Canterbury. According to accounts left by the
monk Gervase of Canterbury and eyewitness Edward Grim, they placed their weapons
under a tree outside the cathedral and hid their mail armour under cloaks before
entering to challenge Archbishop Thomas Becket. The knights informed Becket he

was to go to Winchester to give an account of his actions, but Becket refused. It was
not until Becket refused their demands to submit to the king's will that they retrieved
their weapons and rushed back inside for the killing. Becket, meanwhile, proceeded
to the main hall for vespers. The four knights, wielding drawn swords, caught up with
him in a spot near a door to the monastic cloister, the stairs into the crypt, and the
stairs leading up into the quire of the cathedral, where the monks were chanting
vespers. Several contemporary accounts of what happened next exist; of particular
note is the account of Edward Grim, who was himself wounded in the attack.

This is part of the account from Edward Grim:

...The wicked knight leapt suddenly upon him, cutting off the top of the crown which
the unction of sacred chrism had dedicated to God. Next he received a second blow on
the head, but still he stood firm and immovable. At the third blow he fell on his knees
and elbows, offering himself a living sacrifice, and saying in a low voice, 'For the
name of Jesus and the protection of the Church, I am ready to embrace death.' But the
third knight inflicted a terrible wound as he lay prostrate. By this stroke, the crown of
his head was separated from the head in such a way that the blood white with the
brain, and the brain no less red from the blood, dyed the floor of the cathedral. The
same clerk who had entered with the knights placed his foot on the neck of the holy
priest and precious martyr, and, horrible to relate, scattered the brains and blood about
the pavements, crying to the others, 'Let us away, knights; this fellow will arise no
Following Archbishop Thomas Becket's death, the monks prepared his body for
burial. According to some accounts, it was discovered that Becket had worn a hair


shirt under his archbishop's garments, this was sign of penance. Soon after, the
faithful throughout Europe began venerating Becket as a martyr, and on 21 February
1173, a little more than two years after his death, he was canonised by Pope
Alexander III in St Peter's Church in Segni. On 12 July 1174, in the midst of the
Revolt of 11731174, Henry the second humbled himself with public penance at
Thomas Becket's tomb as well as at the church of St. Dunstan's, which became one of
the most popular pilgrimage sites in England.
In 1173, Archbishop Thomas Becket's sister Mary was appointed as Abbess of
Barking Abbey as reparation for the murder of her brother.
Becket's assassins fled north to Knaresborough Castle, which was held by Hugh de
Morville, where they remained for about a year. De Morville held property in
Cumbria and this may also have provided a convenient bolt-hole. The men prepared
for a longer stay in the separate kingdom of Scotland. They were not arrested and
neither did Henry the second confiscate their lands, but he failed to help them when
they sought his advice in August 1171. Pope Alexander 111 excommunicated all

Seeking forgiveness, the assassins travelled to Rome and were ordered by the Pope to
serve as knights in the Holy Lands for a period of fourteen years.
The Monks in Canterbury were afraid that Archbishop Thomas Becket's body might
be stolen. To prevent this, his remains were placed beneath the floor of the eastern
crypt of Canterbury Cathedral. A stone cover was placed over the burial place with
two holes where pilgrims could insert their heads and kiss the tomb; this arrangement
is illustrated in the 'Miracle Windows' of Canterbury Cathedrals the Trinity Chapel.
A guard chamber (now called the Wax Chamber) had a clear view of the grave. In
1220, Becket's bones were moved to a new gold-plated and bejeweled shrine behind
the high altar in the Trinity Chapel. The shrine was supported by three pairs of pillars,
placed on a raised platform with three steps. This is also illustrated in one of the
miracle windows. Canterbury, because of its religious history, had always seen a large
number of pilgrims. However, after the death of Archbishop Thomas Becket, the
number of pilgrims visiting the city rose rapidly.


In 1220, Thomas Becket's remains were relocated from this first tomb to a shrine, in
the recently completed Trinity Chapel where it stood until it was destroyed on orders
from Henry the eighth in 1538, during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Henry the
eighth also destroyed Becket's bones and ordered that all mention of his name be
obliterated. The pavement where the shrine stood is today marked by a lit candle.
Thomas Becket was very much regarded as a Londoner by the citizens and was
adopted as the London's co-patron saint with along with Saint Paul: both their images
appeared on the seals of the city and of the Lord Mayor. Local legends regarding
Archbishop Thomas Becket arose after his canonisation. "Becket's Well", in Otford,
Kent, is said to have been created after Becket had become displeased with the taste
of the local water. Two springs of clear water are said to have bubbled up after he
struck the ground with his crozier. The absence of nightingales in Otford is also
ascribed to Becket, who is said to have been so disturbed in his devotions by the song
of a nightingale that he commanded that none should sing in the town ever again. In
the town of Strood, also in Kent, Becket is said to have caused the inhabitants of the
town and their descendants to be born with tails. The men of Strood had sided with
the king in his struggles against the archbishop, and to demonstrate their support, had
cut off the tail of Beckets horse as he passed through the town.
The saint's fame quickly spread throughout the Norman world. The first holy image of
Becket is thought to be a mosaic icon still visible in Monreale Cathedral, in Sicily,
created shortly after his death. Becket's cousins obtained refuge at the Sicilian court
during his exile, and King William II of Sicily wed a daughter of Henry the second.
The principal church of the Sicilian city of Marsala is dedicated to St Thomas Becket.
Over forty-five medieval chasse reliquaries decorated in champlev enamel showing
similar scenes from Becket's life survive, including the Becket Casket in Londons V
& A Museum.


RICHARD 1 (8 September 1157 6 April 1199) was King of England from 6 July
1189 until his death. He also ruled as Duke of Normandy (as Richard IV), Duke of
Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Lord of Cyprus, Count of Anjou, Count of Maine,
Count of Nantes, and Overlord of Brittany at various times during the same period.
He was the second son of Henry the second of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine.
Henrys first son had died and Richard succeeded to the English throne when his
father Henry the second died in 1189. Because of his reputation as a great military
leader and warrior he was known as Richard Cur de Lion, or Richard the
By the age of 16, Richard the Lionheart had taken command of his own army, putting
down rebellions in Poitou against his father, King Henry the second. Richard was a
central Christian commander during the Third Crusade, leading the campaign after the
departure of Philip II of France. Richard the Lionheart scored considerable victories
against his Muslim counterpart, Saladin, although he did not re-conquer Jerusalem
from Saladin

Richard spoke a French dialect language, and Occitan, a Romance language spoken in
southern France and nearby regions. He lived in his Duchy of Aquitaine in the
southwest of France and spent very little time in England, preferring to use his
English kingdom as a source of revenue to support his armies He was seen as a pious
hero by his subjects. He remains one of the few kings of England remembered by
Richard the Lionheart rather than Richard the first and is an enduring iconic figure in
England and France. After a short reign Richard died in 1199 and his younger brother
John succeeded him to the throne of England

JOHN the first (24 December 1166 18/19 October 1216), was also known as John
Lackland and was King of England from 6 April 1199 until his death. During John's
reign, England lost the Duchy of Normandy to Philip II of France, which resulted in


the collapse of most of the Angevin Empire and contributed to the subsequent growth
in power of the Capetian dynasty during the 13th century. The baronial revolt at the
end of John's reign led to the signing of the Magna Carta, a document often
considered to be an early step in the evolution of the constitution of the United
John, the youngest of five sons of King Henry the second and Eleanor of Aquitaine,
was at first not expected to inherit significant lands. Following the failed rebellion of
his elder brothers between 1173 and 1174, however, John became Henry's favourite
child. He was appointed the Lord of Ireland in 1177 and given lands in England and
on the continent. Three of John's elder brothers William, Henry and Geoffrey died
young and by the time the second eldest brother Richard became Richard the first in
1189, John already was a potential heir to the throne. While his brother Richard the
first was participating in the third crusade John unsuccessfully attempted a rebellion
against his brother Richard's royal administrators. Despite this, after Richard died in
1199, John was still proclaimed King of England, and he came to an agreement with
Philip the second for France to recognise John's possession of the Angevin lands at
the peace treaty of Le Goulet in 1200.
When war with France broke out again in 1202, King John achieved early victories,
but shortages of military resources and his treatment of Norman, Breton and Anjou
nobles resulted in the collapse of his empire in northern France in 1204. John spent
much of the next decade attempting to regain these lands, raising huge revenues,
reforming his armed forces and rebuilding continental alliances. John's judicial
reforms had a lasting, positive impact on the English common law system, as well as
providing an additional source of revenue. An argument with Pope Innocent III led to
John's excommunication in 1209, a dispute finally settled by King John in 1213.
John's attempt to defeat King Philip 11 in 1214 failed due to the French victory over
John's allies at the battle of Bouvines.
When he returned to England, King John faced a rebellion by many of his barons,
who were unhappy with his fiscal policies and his treatment of many of England's
most powerful nobles. Although both John and the barons agreed to the Magna Carta
peace treaty in 1215, neither side complied with its conditions. Civil war broke out
shortly afterwards, with the barons aided by King Louis 11 of France. It soon


descended into a stalemate. John died of dysentery contracted whilst on campaign in

eastern England during late 1216. He was succeeded by his son who became Henry
the third. Supporters of King John and his son Henry the third went on to achieve
victory over King Louis11 and the rebel barons in the following year.




(Latin for Great Charter), also called Magna Carta

Libertatum or The Great Charter of the Liberties of England, is an Angevin

charter originally issued in Latin in June of 1215. It was signed and sealed under oath
by King John at Runnymede, near London, England. Magna Carta was the first
document forced on to a King of England by a group of his subjects, the feudal
barons, in an attempt to limit the Kings powers by law and protect their rights. The
charter was an important part of the protracted historical process that led to the rule of
constitutional law in the English speaking world. It has become a source of inspiration
throughout the world.
The 1215 charter required King John of England to proclaim certain liberties and
accept that the Kings will, was not absolute. One example of this is; The King
explicitly accepts that no "freeman" (in the sense of non-serf) can be punished except


through the law of the land and not by the will of the King. A right that still exists
The name Runnymede may be derived from the Anglo-Saxon, describing a place in
the meadows used to hold regular meetings. The Witan, Witenagemot or Council of
the Anglo-Saxon Kings of the 7th to 11th centuries was held from time to time at
Runnymede during the reign of Alfred the Great. The Council met usually in the open
air. This changed in succeeding years, and influenced the creation of England's 13th
century parliament.
The water-meadow at Runnymede is the most likely location at which, in 1215, King
John sealed the Magna Carta. The charter indicates Runnymede by name. The Magna
Carta had an impact on common and constitutional law as well as political
representation also affecting the development of parliament. Runnymede's association
with ideals of democracy, limitation of power, equality and freedom under law has
attracted placement there of monuments and commemorative symbols.
The Magna Carta was preceded and directly influenced by the Charter of Liberties in
1100, in which King Henry the first had specified particular areas wherein his powers
would be limited. Magna Carta was important in the colonization of America as
England's legal system was used as a model for many of the colonies as they
developed their own legal systems.
The Magna Carta was translated into vernacular French as early as 1219, and was
reissued later in the 13th century in modified versions. The later versions however,
excluded the most direct challenges to the monarch's authority that had been present
in the 1215 charter
The charter first passed into law in 1225. The 1297 version with the long title
(originally in Latin) "The Great Charter of the Liberties of England, and of the
Liberties of the Forest still remains on the statute books of England and Wales.
Despite its recognised importance, by the second half of the 19th century nearly all of
its clauses had been repealed in their original form and only three clauses currently
remain part of the law of England and Wales.

However, and it is generally

considered part of the uncodified constitution. Lord Denning described it as "the

greatest constitutional document of all times, the foundation of the freedom of the


individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot. In a speech in 2005, Lord
Woolf described the Magna Carta as the "first of a series of instruments that now are
recognised as having a special constitutional status". The other instruments being the
Habeas Corpus Act of 1679, the Petition of Right Act of 1628, the Bill of Rights Act
of 1689, and the Act of Settlement Act of 1701.
It was Magna Carta, and not the other early concessions by the monarch, which has
survived to become a "sacred text". In practice, Magna Carta in the medieval period
did not generally limit the power of Kings, but by the time of the English Civil War it
had become an important symbol for those who wished to show that the King was
bound by the law. It influenced the early settlers in New England and inspired later
constitutional documents, including the United States Constitution.

HENRY 111 (1 October 1207 16 November 1272), also known as Henry of

Winchester, was King of England, Lord of Ireland and Duke of Aquitaine from 1216
until his death. He was the son of King John and Isabella of Angoulme. Henry
assumed the throne when he was only nine in the middle of the First Barons' War.
Cardinal Guala declared the war against the rebel barons to be a religious crusade and
Henry the thirds forces, led by William Marshal, defeated the rebels at the battles of
Lincoln and Sandwich in 1217. Henry the third promised to abide by the Great
Charter of 1225, which limited royal power and protected the rights of the major
barons. His early rule was dominated first by Hubert de Burgh and then Peter des
Roches, who reestablished royal authority after the war. In 1230 Henry the third
attempted to re-conquer the Provinces in France that had once belonged to his father,
but the invasion was a debacle. A revolt led by William Marshal's son, Richard, broke
out in 1232, ending in a peace settlement negotiated by the Church.


Following the revolt in 1232, Henry the third ruled England personally, rather than
governing through senior ministers. He travelled far less than previous monarchs,
investing heavily in a handful of his favourite palaces and castles. He married Eleanor
of Provence, with whom he had five children. Henry was known for his piety, holding
lavish religious ceremonies and giving generously to charities; the King was
particularly devoted to the figure of Edward the Confessor, whom he adopted as his
patron saint.
He extracted huge sums of money from the Jewish population in England, ultimately
crippling their ability to do business, and as attitudes towards the Jews hardened, he
introduced the Statute of Jewry, attempting to segregate the community. In a fresh
attempt to reclaim his family's lands in France, he invaded Poitou in 1242, leading to
the disastrous Battle of Taillebourg. After this, Henry relied on diplomacy, cultivating
an alliance with Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II. Henry supported his brother
Richard in his bid to become King of the Romans in 1256, but was unable to place his
own son Edmund on the throne of Sicily, despite investing large amounts of money.
He planned to go on crusade to the Levant, but was prevented from doing so by
rebellions in Gascony.

By 1258, Henry's rule was increasingly unpopular, the result of the failure of his
expensive foreign policies and the notoriety of his half-brothers as well as the role of
his local officials in collecting taxes and debts. A coalition of his barons, initially
probably backed by Henrys wife Eleanor of Provence, seized power in a coup d'tat
reforming the royal government through a process called the Provisions of Oxford.
Henry and the baronial government enacted a peace with France in 1259, under which
Henry gave up his rights to his other lands in France in return for King Louis IX of
France recognising him as the rightful ruler of Gascony. The baronial regime
collapsed but Henry was unable to reform a stable government and instability across
England continued.
In 1263 one of the more radical barons, Simon de Montfort, seized power, resulting in
the Second Barons' War . Henry successfully persuaded King Louis 1X to support his
cause and Henry proceeded to mobilise an army. The Battle of Lewes took place in
1264, and Henry was defeated and taken prisoner. Henry's eldest son, Edward,


escaped and went on to defeat Baron Simon de Montfort at the Battle of Evesham the
following year. Henrys son Edward freed his father. Henry initially enacted a harsh
revenge on the remaining rebels, but was persuaded by the Church to mollify his
policies through the Dictum of Kenilworth. Reconstruction was slow and Henry had
to acquiesce to various measures, one of which was to include further suppression of
the Jewish population to maintain baronial and popular support.
Henry died in 1272, leaving his son Edward as his successor. He was buried in
Westminster Abbey, which he had rebuilt in the second half of his reign, and was
moved to his current tomb in 1290. Some miracles were declared after his death but
he was not canonised. Henry's 56-year reign makes him the fifth longest reigning
monarch in English history.

EDWARD 1 (17 June 1239 7 July 1307), also known as Edward Longshanks and
the Hammer of the Scots. He was King of England from 1272 to 1307. The first son
of Henry the third, Edward was involved early in the political intrigues of his father's
reign, which included an outright rebellion by the English barons. In 1259, he briefly
sided with a baronial reform movement, supporting the Provisions of Oxford. After
reconciliation with his father, however, he remained loyal throughout the subsequent
armed conflict, known as the Second Barons' War. After the Battle of Lewes, Edward
was hostage to the rebellious barons, but escaped after a few months and joined the
fight against Simon de Montfort. Montfort was defeated at the Battle of Evesham in
1265, and within two years the rebellion was extinguished. With England pacified,
Edward left on a crusade to the Holy Land. The crusade accomplished little, and in
1272 when Edward was on his way home in he was informed that his father had died.
Making a slow return, Edward eventually reached England in 1274, and he was
crowned king at Westminster on 19 August 1274.


Edward the first spent much of his reign reforming royal administration and common
law. Through an extensive legal inquiry, Edward investigated the tenure of various
feudal liberties, while the law was reformed through a series of statutes regulating
criminal and property law. Increasingly, however, Edward's attention was drawn
towards military affairs. After suppressing a minor rebellion in Wales in 127677,
Edward responded to a second rebellion in 128283 with a full-scale war of conquest.
After a successful campaign, Edward subjected Wales to English rule, built a series of
castles and towns in the countryside and settled them with Englishmen. Next, his
efforts were directed towards Scotland. Initially Scotland was invited to arbitrate a
succession dispute. Edward claimed feudal control over the kingdom but Scotland did
not agree. In the war that followed, one of the Wars of Scottish Independence the
Scots eventually persevered. The English however did seem victorious at several
points. At the same time there were problems at home. In the mid-1290s, extensive
military campaigns required high levels of taxation, and Edward the first met with
both lay and ecclesiastical opposition.

Sir William Wallace (died 23 August 1305) was a Scottish landowner who became
one of the main leaders during the Wars of Scottish Independence.
Along with Andrew Moray, Wallace defeated an English army at the Battle of Stirling
Bridge in September 1297, and was appointed Guardian of Scotland, serving until his
defeat at the Battle of Falkirk in July 1298. In August 1305 Wallace was captured in
Robroyston near Glasgow and handed over to King Edward I of England. Edward the
first had him hanged, drawn, and quartered for high treason and additional crimes
against English civilians. Since his death, Wallace has obtained an iconic status far
beyond his homeland. He is the protagonist of the 15th-century epic poem The
Wallace, by Blind Harry. Wallace is also the subject of literary works by Sir Walter
Scott and Jane Porter .These Scottish situation was not settled and the issues remained
Edward the first was a tall man for his era, hence the nickname "Longshanks". He was
temperamental, and this, along with his height, made him an intimidating man, and he
often instilled fear in his contemporaries. Nevertheless, he held the respect of his

subjects for the way he embodied the medieval ideal of kingship, as a soldier, an
administrator and a man of faith.
The Statutes of Mortmain were two enactments introduced by Edward the first in
1279 and 1290. They were aimed at preserving the kingdom's revenues by preventing
land from passing into the possession of the Church. Possession of property by a
corporation such as the church was known as mortmain. In Medieval England, feudal
estates generated taxes (in the form of incidents) upon the inheritance or granting of
the estate. If an estate was owned by a religious corporation that never died, attained
majority, or became attainted for treason, these taxes were never paid. The Statutes of
Mortmain were meant to re-establish the prohibition against donating land to the
Church for purposes of avoiding feudal services which had been hinted at in the
Magna Carta in 1215 and further defined in the Great Charter of 1217. John of
England died shortly after Magna Carta was signed. Henry III of England, the son of
John, did not enforce these laws, and he showed great deference to the Church.

His son, Edward I of England however, was interested in re-establishing the precedent
set in the Magna Carta and the Great Charter of 1217, and so introduced the Statutes
of Mortmain which provided that no estate should be granted to a corporation without
royal assent. The problem of Church lands however persisted. It was finally brought
to a close when Henry VIII of England disbanded the monasteries and confiscated
Church lands.

Modern historians are divided on their assessment of the Edward the first: while some
have praised him for his contribution to the law and administration, others have
criticised him for his uncompromising attitude towards his nobility. Currently,
Edward the first is credited with many accomplishments during his reign, including
restoring royal authority after the reign of Henry the third, establishing Parliament as
a permanent institution and thereby also a functional system for raising taxes, and
reforming the law through statutes. At the same time, he is also often criticised for
other actions, such as his brutal conduct towards the Scots, and issuing the Edict of


Expulsion in 1290, by which the Jewish population were expelled from England. The
Edict of Expulsion remained in effect for the rest of the Middle Ages, and it would be
over 350 years until it was formally overturned under Oliver Cromwell in 1656.
Edward the first married Eleanor of Castile in 1254 and had several children, however
only four of them survived to adulthood, three of the daughters and one son Edward,,
who eventually succeeded him as Edward the second. When Eleanor died, he married
Marguerite with whom he had several more sons.
When Edward the first, died in 1307, he left to his son, Edward the second an ongoing
war with Scotland and many financial and political problems.


Eleanor was born in Spain (the exact location is unknown); she was the daughter of
King Ferdinand III of Castile and Joan, Countess of Ponthieu. Her Castilian name,
Leonor, became Alienor or Alianor in England, and Eleanor in modern English. She
was named after her great-grandmother, Eleanor of England.
Eleanor of Castille was the second of five children born to Ferdinand and Joan. Her
elder brother Ferdinand was born in 1239/40, her younger brother Louis in 1242/43;
two sons born after Louis died young. For the ceremonies in 1291 marking the first
anniversary of Eleanor's death, 49 candle bearers were paid to walk in the public
procession to commemorate each year of her life. This would date her birth to the year
1241. Since her parents were apart from each other for 13 months while King
Ferdinand conducted a military campaign in Andalusia from which he returned to the
north of Spain only in February 1241, Eleanor was probably born toward the end of
that year. Both the court of her father and her half-brother Alfonso X of Castile were
known for its literary atmosphere. Growing up in such an environment probably


influenced her later literary activities as Queen. She was said to have been at her
father's deathbed in Seville in 1252
Eleanor's marriage in 1254 to the future Edward the first of England was not the first
marriage her family planned for her. The Kings of Castile had long made the tenuous
claim to be paramount lords of the Kingdom of Navarre in the Pyrenees, and from
1250 Ferdinand III and his heir, Eleanor's half-brother Alfonso X of Castile, hoped
she would marry Theobald II of Navarre. To avoid Castilian control, Margaret of
Bourbon mother of Theobald II, in 1252 allied with James I of Aragon instead, and as
part of that treaty solemnly promised that Theobald would never marry Eleanor.
When, in 1252, Alfonso X resurrected another flimsy ancestral claim, this time to the
Duchy of Gascony, in the south of Aquitaine, the last possession of the Kings of
England in France. Henry the third of England swiftly countered Alfonso's claims
with both diplomatic and military moves.

Early in 1254 the two kings began to negotiate; after haggling over the financial
provision for Eleanor, Henry and Alfonso agreed she would marry Henry the thirds
son Edward, and Alfonso would transfer his Gascon claims to Edward. Henry was so
anxious for the marriage to take place that he willingly abandoned elaborate
preparations already made for Edward's knighting in England, and agreed that
Alfonso would knight Edward before the wedding took place.
The young couple married at the monastery of Las Huelgas, Burgos, on 1 November
1254. Edward and Eleanor were second cousins once removed, as Edward's
grandfather King John of England and Eleanor's great-grandmother Eleanor of
England were the son and daughter of King Henry the second and Eleanor of
Aquitaine. Henry the third took pride in resolving the Gascon crisis so decisively, but
his English subjects feared that the marriage would bring Eleanor's kinfolk and
countrymen to live off Henry the thirds ruinous generosity. Several of her relatives
did come to England soon after her marriage. She was too young to stop them or
prevent Henry the third from paying for them, but she was blamed anyway and her


marriage was unpopular. Interestingly enough, Eleanor's mother had been spurned in
marriage by Henry the third and her great-grandmother, Alys, Countess of the Vexin,
had been spurned in marriage by Richard the first. However, the presence of more
English, French and Norman soldiers of fortune and opportunists in the recently reconquered Seville and Cordoba Moorish Kingdoms would be increased, thanks to this
alliance between royal houses, until the advent of the later Hundred Years War when
it would be symptomatic of extended hostilities between the French and the English
for peninsular support.
There is little record of Eleanor's life in England until the 1260s, when the Second
Barons' War, between Henry the third and his barons, divided the kingdom. During
this time Eleanor actively supported Edward's interests, importing archers from her
mother's county of Ponthieu in France. It is untrue, however, that she was sent to
France to escape danger during the war; she was in England all through the struggle.
Rumours that she was seeking fresh troops from Castile led the baronial leader, Simon
de Montfort, to order her removal from Windsor Castle in June 1264 after the royalist
army had been defeated at the Battle of Lewes.

Edward was captured at Lewes and imprisoned, and Eleanor was honourably confined
at Westminster Palace. After Edward and Henry the thirds army defeated the baronial
army at the Battle of Evesham in 1265, Edward took a major role in reforming the
government and Eleanor rose to prominence at his side. Her position was greatly
improved in July 1266 when, after she had borne three short-lived daughters, she
finally gave birth to a son, John, who was followed by a second, Henry, in the spring
of 1268, and in 1269 by a healthy daughter, Eleanor.
By 1270, the kingdom was pacified and Edward and Eleanor left to join his uncle
Louis IX of France on the Eighth Crusade. However, Louis died at Carthage before
they arrived. After they spent the winter in Sicily, the couple went on to Acre in
Palestine, where they arrived in May 1271. Eleanor gave birth to a daughter, known
as "Joanna of Acre" for her birthplace.
The crusade was militarily unsuccessful, but Baibars of the Bahri dynasty was
worried enough by Edward's presence at Acre that an assassination attempt was made
on the English heir in June 1272. He was wounded in the arm by a dagger that was

thought to be poisoned. The wound soon became seriously inflamed, and an English
surgeon saved him by cutting away the diseased flesh, but only after Eleanor was led
from his bed, "weeping and wailing. Later storytellers embellished this incident,
claiming Eleanor sucked poison from the wound, but this fanciful tale has no
They left Palestine in September 1272 and in Sicily that December they learned of
Henry the thirds death (on 16 November 1272). Edward and Eleanor returned to
England and were crowned Edward the first and Queen Eleanor together on 19
August 1274.
Arranged royal marriages in the Middle Ages were not always happy, but available
evidence indicates that Eleanor and Edward were devoted to each other. Edward is
among the few medieval English kings not known to have conducted extramarital
affairs or fathered children out of wedlock. The couple were rarely apart; she
accompanied him on military campaigns in Wales, famously giving birth to their son
Edward on 25 April 1284 in a temporary dwelling erected for her amid the
construction of Caernarfon Castle.
Their household records witness incidents that imply a comfortable, even humorous,
relationship. Each year on Easter Monday, Edward the first let Eleanor's ladies trap
him in his bed and paid them a token ransom so he could go to her bedroom on the
first day after Lent; so important was this custom to him that in 1291, on the first
Easter Monday after Eleanor's death, he gave her ladies the money he would have
given them had she been alive.
After Eleanors death Edward the first remained single until he wed Marguerite of
France in 1299 and this is often cited to prove he cherished Eleanor's memory. In fact
he considered a second marriage as early as 1293, but this does not mean he did not
mourn Eleanor. Eloquent testimony is found in his letter to the Abbot of Cluny in
France (January 1291), seeking prayers for the soul of the wife "whom living we
dearly cherished, and whom dead we cannot cease to love." In her memory, Edward
the first ordered the construction of twelve elaborate stone crosses between 1291 and
1294. The crosses mark the route of her funeral procession between Lincoln and
London. Three survive of the crosses almost intact survive.


However, only one of Eleanor's four sons survived childhood and, even before she
died, Edward the first worried over the succession: if that son died, their daughters'
husbands might cause a succession war. Despite personal grief, Edward the first faced
his duty and married again. He delighted in the sons his new wife bore, but attended
memorial services for Eleanor to the end of his life.
Eleanor is warmly remembered by history as the queen who inspired the Eleanor
crosses, but she was not so loved in her own time. The English saw her as a greedy
foreigner. In fact Edward The first allowed her little political influence, and in other
words, the Eleanor was made to wear the king's unpopular mask. It was always safer
to blame a foreign-born queen than to criticise a king, and easier to believe he was
misled by a meddling wife. Eleanor was neither the first queen nor the last to be
blamed for a king's actions.

Contemporary evidence shows clearly that Eleanor had no impact on the political
history of Edward's reign. Even in diplomatic matters her role was minor, though
Edward did heed her advice on the age at which their daughters could marry foreign
rulers. Otherwise she merely bestowed gifts on visiting princes or envoys. Edward
always honoured his obligations to Alfonso X, but even when Alfonso's need was
desperate in the early 1280s, Edward the first did not send English knights to Castile;
he sent only knights from Gascony, which was closer to Castile. In England, Eleanor
did mediate disputes of a minor nature between Edward's subjects, but only with
Edward's consent and only with the help of ranking members of his council. Edward
was prepared to resist her demands, or to stop her, if he felt she was going too far in
any of her activities, and he expected his ministers to do likewise.
If she was allowed no effective official role, Eleanor was an intelligent and cultured
woman and found other satisfying outlets for her energies. She was an active
patroness of literature, with scribes and an illuminator in her household to copy books
for her. Some of these were apparently romances and saints' lives, but Eleanor's tastes
ranged far more widely than that. The number and variety of new works written for
her, show that her interests were broad and very sophisticated. After she succeeded

her mother as countess of Ponthieu in 1279, a romance was written for her about the
life of a supposed 9th century count of Ponthieu. In the 1280s, Archbishop Peckham
wrote a work for her to explain what angels were and what they did. In January 1286
she thanked the Abbot of Cerne for lending her a book, possibly a treatise on chess
known to have been written at Cerne in the late thirteenth century, and her accounts
reveal that in 1290 she corresponding with an Oxford master about one of her books.

The queen was a devoted patron of the Dominican Order, and founding several
priories in England and supporting their work at the University of Oxford and the
University of Cambridge. Not surprisingly, Eleanor's piety was of an intellectual
stamp; apart from her religious foundations she was not given to good works, and she
left it to her chaplains to distribute alms for her. She patronised many relatives,
though given that foreigners' were popular in England and the criticism of Henry the
third and queen Eleanor of Provence's generosity to them. She was cautious as queen
to choose which cousins to support. Rather than marry her male cousins to English
heiresses, which would put English wealth in foreign hands, she arranged marriages
for her female cousins to English barons. Edward strongly supported her in these
endeavors, which provided him and his family with an additional network of potential
Eleanor was presumably a healthy woman for most of her life; that she survived
sixteen pregnancies does not suggest that she was frail. Shortly after the birth of her
last child, however, financial accounts from Edward's household and her own begin to
record frequent payments for medicines for the queen's use. The nature of the
medicines is not specified, so it is impossible to know what ailments were troubling
her until, later in 1287 while she was in Gascony with Edward, a letter to England

from a member of the royal entourage states that the queen had a fever, probably a
strain of malaria. The disease is not fatal in itself, but leaves its victims weak and
vulnerable to opportunistic infections. Among other complications, the liver and
spleen become enlarged, brittle, and highly susceptible to injury which may cause
death from internal bleeding.
In the autumn of 1290, news reached Edward the first that Margaret, the Maid of
Norway, heiress of Scotland, had died. He had just held a parliament at Clipstone in
Nottinghamshire, and continued to linger in those parts, presumably to await news of
developments in Scotland. Eleanor followed him at a leisurely pace. She was unwell
with what one contemporary chronicler describes as a feverish illness, quite likely an
infection brought on by malaria that was reported in 1287. After the couple left
Clipstone they travelled slowly toward the city of Lincoln, a destination Eleanor
would never reach.

Her condition worsened as they reached the village of Harby, Nottinghamshire, less
than 22 miles from Lincoln. The journey was abandoned, and the queen was lodged
in the house of Richard de Weston, the foundations of which can still be seen near
Harby's parish church. After piously receiving the Church's last rites, she died there
on the evening of the 28 November 1290, aged 49 and after 36 years of marriage.
Edward was at her bedside to hear her final requests. For three days afterward, the
machinery of government came to a halt and no writs were sealed.
Edward the first followed her body to burial in Westminster Abbey, and erected
memorial crosses at the site of each overnight stop between Lincoln and Westminster.
Based on crosses in France marking Louis IX's funeral procession, these artistically
significant monuments enhanced the image of Edward the firsts kingship as well as
witnessing his grief. The "Eleanor crosses" stood at Lincoln, Grantham, Stamford,
Geddington, Northampton, Stony Stratford, Woburn, Dunstable, St Albans, Waltham,
Westcheap, and Charing. Only three survive, none in entirety. The best preserved is
that at Geddington. All three have lost the crosses "of immense height" that originally
surmounted them; only the lower stages remain. The Waltham cross has been heavily
restored and to prevent further deterioration, its original statues of the queen are now


in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The Waltham and Northampton
crosses have been moved to locations different from their original sites.
The monument now known as "Charing Cross" in London, in front of the railway
station of that name, was built in 1865 to publicise the railway hotel at Charing
station. The original Charing Cross was at the top of Whitehall, on the south side of
Trafalgar Square, but was destroyed in 1647 and later replaced by a statue of Charles
the first.
Eleanor's funeral took place in Westminster Abbey on 17 December 1290. Her body
was placed in a grave near the high altar that had originally contained the coffin of
Edward the Confessor and, more recently, that of King Henry the third until his
remains were removed to his new tomb in 1290. Eleanor's body remained in this
grave until the completion of her own tomb.

She had probably ordered that tomb before her death. It consists of a marble chest
with carved mouldings and shields (originally painted) of the arms of England,
Castile, and Ponthieu. The chest is surmounted by a 'superb gilt-bronze effigy,
showing Eleanor in the same pose as the image on her great seal.
When Edward remarried a decade after her death, he and his second wife Margaret of
France, named their only daughter Eleanor in honour of her.
Eleanor of Castile's queenship is significant in English history for the evolution of a
stable financial system for the king's wife, and for the honing this process gave the
queen-consort's prerogatives. The estates Eleanor assembled became the nucleus for
dower assignments made to later queens of England into the 15th century, and her
involvement in this process solidly established a queen-consort's freedom to engage in
such transactions. Few later queens exerted themselves in economic activity to the
extent Eleanor did, but their ability to do so rested on the precedents settled in her


EDWARD 11 (25 April 1284 21 September 1327), also called Edward of

Caernarfon, was King of England from 1307 until he was deposed by his wife
Isabella in January 1327 and succeeded by their son Edward the third. Edward the
second was the son of Edward the first and his first wife Eleanor of Castille, and he
was the sixth Plantagenet king, in a line that began with the reign of Henry the second
Between the strong reigns of his father Edward the first and later his own son Edward
the third, the reign of Edward the second was considered by some to be disastrous for
England. It was marked by alleged incompetence, political squabbling and military
While Edward the second fathered at least five children by two women, he was
rumoured by some to have been bisexual

His inability to deny even the most

grandiose favours to his male favourites, first a Gascon knight named Piers Gaveston,
and later a young English lord named Hugh Despenser, led to constant speculation
and political unrest, and eventually his final deposition.
His father, Edward the first had pacified Gwynedd and some other parts of Wales and
the Scottish lowlands, but never exerted a comprehensive conquest. However, the
army of Edward the second was devastatingly defeated at Bannockburn, which freed


Scotland from English control and allowed Scottish forces to raid unchecked
throughout the north of England.
In addition to these disasters, Edward the second is remembered for his probable
death in Berkeley Castle, allegedly by murder, and also for being the first monarch to
establish colleges at Oxford and Cambridge: Oriel College at Oxford and King's Hall,
a predecessor of Trinity College, at Cambridge.
In 1325 a dispute between France and England broke out over Edward the seconds
refusal to pay homage to the French king for the territory of Gascony. After several
bungled attempts to regain the territory, Edward the second sent his wife, Isabella, to
negotiate peace terms. Overjoyed, Isabella arrived in France in March 1325. She was
now able to visit her family and native land as well as escape from her husband,
Edward the second, whom she now detested, presumably because of his bisexuality.

On 31 May 1325, Isabella agreed to a peace treaty favouring France and requiring
Edward the second to pay homage in France to Isabellas brother, King Charles of
France. Edward the second decided to send his son to France to pay the homage. This
proved to be a gross tactical error, and helped to bring about the ruination of Edward
the second. Isabella, Edward the seconds wife now that she had her son with her in
France, declared that she would not return to England.
Isabella's retinue, who were loyal to Edward the second, were ordered back to
England by Isabella. When they returned to the English Court on 23 December, they
brought shocking news for Edward the second. Isabella had formed a liaison with
Roger Mortimer in Paris and they were now plotting an invasion of England.
Edward the second prepared for the invasion but his son Edward of Windsor refused
to leave his mother, claiming he wanted to remain with her during her unease and
unhappiness. Edward the seconds half-brother, the Earl of Kent, who had married
Roger Mortimer's cousin, Margaret Wak, and some other nobles, such as John de
Cromwell and the Earl of Richmond, also chose to support Roger Mortimer and
Queen Isabella..


In September 1326, Roger Mortimer and Isabella invaded England. Edward the
second was amazed by their small numbers of soldiers, and immediately attempted to
gather an immense army to crush them. However, a large number of men refused to
fight Roger Mortimer and Isabella, they regarded Isabella as the Queen of England.
Henry of Lancaster, for example, was not even summoned by the king, and he showed
his loyalties by raising an army, seizing a cache of treasure from Leicester Abbey, and
marching south to join Roger Mortimer.
The invasion soon had gathered too much force and support, to be stemmed. As a
result, the army Edward the second had attempted to gather failed to emerge and
Edward the second was left isolated. Edward the second abandoned London on 2
October, leaving the city to fall into disorder.

Edward the second first took refuge in Gloucester where he arrived on 9 October. He
then fled to South Wales in order to try to put together an army and to retaliate.
However, Edward was unable to rally an army, and on 31 October, he was abandoned
by his servants, leaving him with only a few retainers. With a small force, Henry of
Lancaster was sent to Wales to capture Edward the second. He did this on 16
November when Edward the second was caught in the open country near Tonyrefail.
A plaque now commemorates the event. Henry of Lancaster took Edward the second
to Kenilworth Castle where he was imprisoned.
Reprisals against the allies of Edward the second began immediately thereafter. The
Earl of Arundel, Sir Edmund Fitz Alan, an old enemy of Roger Mortimer, was
beheaded on 17 November, together with two of the Earl's retainers, John Daniel and
Thomas de Micheldever.
Hugh Despenser the Younger was brutally executed and a huge crowd gathered in
anticipation at seeing him die, a spectacle for public entertainment. They dragged him
from his horse, stripped him, and scrawled Biblical verses against corruption and
arrogance on his skin. They then dragged him into the city, presenting him in the

market square to Queen Isabella, Roger Mortimer, and Henry of Lancaster. He was
then condemned to hang as a thief, to be castrated, and then to be drawn and quartered
as a traitor. His body parts to be dispersed throughout England. Hugh Despenser's
trusty servant, Simon of Reading was also hanged next to him, on charges of insulting
Queen Isabella. Edward the seconds Chancellor, Robert Baldock, was placed under
house arrest in London, A London mob later broke into the house, severely beat him,
and threw him into Newgate Prison. In Newgate Prison he was murdered by some of
the inmates.
With Edward the second imprisoned, Roger Mortimer and Queen Isabella the wife of
Edward the second, faced the problem of what to do with him. The simplest solution
would be an execution. His titles would then pass to his and Isabellas son Edward of
Windsor, whom Isabella believed she could control. Execution would also prevent
the possibility of him being restored to the throne.

Execution however would require that Edward the second be tried and convicted of
treason: and while most agreed that Edward had failed to show due attention to his
country, several argued that, appointed by God, he could not be legally deposed or
executed. If this happened, they said, God would punish the country. It was therefore
decided to have Edward the second imprisoned for life instead. However, the fact
remained that the legality of power still lay with Edward the second as King. His
wife Isabella had been given the Great Sea of England, and she was using it to rule in
the name of the king, in the name of herself, and in the name of their son Edward of
Windsor, as appropriate. Nonetheless, all these actions were illegal, and could at any
moment be challenged.
In these circumstances, Parliament chose to act as an authority above the king.
Representatives of the House of Commons were summoned, and debates began. The
Archbishop of York, William Melton and others declared themselves fearful of the
London mobs, who were loyal to Roger Mortimer and Queen Isabella. Others wanted
Edward the second to speak in Parliament and openly abdicate from the throne, rather
than be deposed. Roger Mortimer responded to this by commanding the Lord Mayor
of London, Richard de Betoyne, to write to Parliament, asking them to go to the

Guildhall to swear an oath to protect Queen Isabella and her son Prince Edward of
Windsor, and to depose her husband Edward the second. Roger Mortimer then
called the Lords to a secret meeting that night, at which they gave their unanimous
support to the deposing of Edward the second. Eventually Parliament agreed to the
removal of Edward the second from the throne. What they had actually agreed was
that Edward the second should no longer rule, but they had not deposed him. Edward
the second was asked to accept parliaments decision.

On 20 January 1327, Edward the second was informed at Kenilworth Castle of the
charges brought against him. The charges were as follows.
1..The king was guilty of incompetence allowing others to govern him to the
detriment of the people and Church.
2..The king had not listened to good advice and had pursued occupations unbecoming
to a monarch.
3..The king had lost Scotland and lands in Gascony and Ireland through failure of
effective governance.
4..The king had damaged the Church, and imprisoned its representatives.
5..The king had allowed nobles to be killed, disinherited, imprisoned and exiled.
6..The king had failed to ensure fair justice instead he governed for profit and allowed
others to do likewise.
7..The king had fled in the company of a notorious enemy of the realm, leaving it
without government, and thereby losing the faith and trust of his people.


Edward the second was profoundly shocked by these charges, and he wept while
listening to them. He was then offered a choice: he might abdicate in favour of his
and Isabellas son Prince Edward of Windsor; or he might resist, and relinquish the
throne to one of not royal blood, but who was experienced in government, this,
presumably was a reference to Roger Mortimer. The king, lamenting that his people
had so hated his rule, eventually agreed that if the people would accept his son, he
would abdicate in his favour. The lords, through the person of Sir William Trussell,
then renounced their homage to him, and the reign of Edward the second ended. The
abdication was announced and recorded in London on 24 January 1327, and the
following day was proclaimed the first of the reign of his son Edward the third, who,
at 14 years of age was still controlled by his mother Isabella and Roger Mortimer.
Edward the second, remained in prison.

The government of Isabella and Mortimer was so precarious that they dared not leave
the deposed king in the hands of their political enemies. On the 3 April 1327
Edward the second was removed from Kenilworth Castle and entrusted to the custody
of two subordinates of Roger Mortimer. Edward the second was then later imprisoned
at Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire.
On 23 September 1327 Edward the third was informed by his mother Isabella that her
husband, and Edwards father, the deposed Edward the second had died on 21
September 1327. Most sources agree that Edward the second died on that date at
Berkeley Castle. One chronicle, however, states that Edward died at Corfe Castle. The
causes given for his death vary. A number of chroniclers give no cause of death at all.
Some state that he was suffocated, or strangled, and a few state that he was both
suffocated and killed by the insertion of a red hot poker or other long metal object into
his anus. This last explanation is the one usually associated with Edward the second.
But it may be a later addition, designed to denigrate Edward the seconds reputation.
Thomas de la Moore wrote the poker account of Edward's murder in 1352 but it is
uncorroborated by any other contemporary sources. It was not until the relevant
sections of the longer Brut chronicle were composed by an anti Roger Mortimer
Lancastrian in the mid 1430s was the story widely circulated. The historian Michael


Prestwich states that most of the poker story belongs to the world of romance rather
than of history

EDWARD 111 (13 November 1312 21 June 1377) was King of England from 1327
until his death; he is noted for his military success and for restoring royal authority
after the disastrous reign of his father, Edward II. Edward the third transformed the
Kingdom of England into one of the most formidable military powers in Europe; his
reign also saw vital developments in legislation and government, in particular the
evolution of the English parliament, as well as the ravages of the Black Death which
first arrived in England in 1348 and re-appeared in England on several occasions
through to the Great Plague 1665. He is one of only six British monarchs to have
ruled England or its successor kingdoms for more than fifty years. Edward the third
married Phillipa and had eight sons, the descendants of whom contributed to the Wars
of the Roses using their titles Duke of Lancaster and Duke of York and their
conflicting ancestry from Edward the third as their claim to the throne. Edward the
thirds sons were:
Edward the Black Prince (1330-1376) he was also the Prince of Wales
William of Hatfield (1337-1337)
Lionel of Antwerp (1338-1368) the Duke of Clarence
John of Gaunt (1340-1399) the Duke of Lancaster
Edmund of Langley (1341-1402) the Duke of York

Thomas of Windsor (1347-1347)

William of Windsor (1348-1348)
Thomas of Woodstock (1355-1397) the Duke of Gloucester
Edward the third was crowned in 1327 at age fourteen after his father was deposed by
his mother Isabella and her consort Roger Mortimer. Three years later in 1330 at age
seventeen he led a successful coup against Roger Mortimer, who up until then was the
de facto ruler of the country. The year 1330 began Edward the thirds personal reign.
After a successful campaign in Scotland in 1337, he declared himself to be the
rightful heir to the French throne, starting what would become known as the Hundred
Years' War between England and France.

Following some initial setbacks the war against the French went exceptionally well
for England; victories at Crcy and Poitiers led to the highly favourable Treaty of
Brtigny. Edward's later years, however, were marked by international failure and
domestic strife, largely as a result of his inactivity and poor health.
Military failure abroad, and the associated fiscal pressure of constant campaigns, led
to political discontent at home. The problems came to a head in the parliament of
1376, the so-called Good Parliament. The parliament was called to grant taxation, but
the House of Commons took the opportunity to address other specific grievances. In
particular, criticism was directed at some of the king's closest advisors. This resulted
in the Chamberlain William Latimer and the Steward of the Household, John Neville
being dismissed from their positions..

Edward the thirds mistress, Alice Perrers,

who was seen to hold far too much power over the ageing king, was banished from
court. But the real adversary of the Commons, and supported by powerful men such
as Wykeham and Edmund de Mortimer, the Earl of March, was John of Gaunt the
fourth son of Edward the third. Both the King and his elder son Edward known as
the Black Prince were by this time incapacitated by illness, leaving John of Gaunt in
virtual control of government. Gaunt was forced to give in to the demands of
parliament, but at its next convocation, in 1377, most of the achievements of the Good
Parliament were reversed.


Edward the third however, did not have much to do with any of this and after around
1375 he played a limited role in the government of the realm. Around 29 September
1376 he fell ill with a large abscess. After a brief period of recovery, Edward the third
died of a stroke at Sheen on 21 June 1377. He was succeeded by his ten-year-old
grandson Richard who was the son of Prince Edward the Black Prince, since the
Black Prince himself had died on 8 June 1376.
Edward the third was a temperamental man but capable of unusual clemency. He was
in many ways a conventional king whose main interest was warfare. Admired in his
own time and for centuries after, Edward was however denounced as an irresponsible
adventurer by later Whig historians such as William Stubbs. This view has been
challenged recently and modern historians credit him with some significant
RICHARD 11 (6 January 1367 ca. 14 February 1400) was King of England from
1377 until he was deposed on 30 September 1399.

Richard, the son of Prince

Edward, the Black Prince, was born during the reign of his grandfather Edward III.
Richard was the younger brother of Edward of Angoulme. Upon the death of his
older brother Edward of Angouleme, Richard, at four years of age, became second in
line to the throne after his father. Upon the death of his father prior to the death of
Edward the third, Richard became the first in line for the throne. With Edward the
third s death in 1377 Richard succeeded to the throne at the age of ten.
During Richard the seconds early years as king, government was in the hands of a
series of councils. The political community preferred the series of councils to a
Regency which would have led to rule by Richard the seconds uncle, John of Gaunt.
John of Gaunt however did remain highly influential. The first major challenge of the
reign was the Peasants' Revolt in 1381. The young king Richard the second played a
major part in the successful suppression of this crisis. In the following years, however,
the king's dependence on a small number of courtiers caused discontent in the
political community, and in 1387 control of government was taken over by a group of
noblemen known as the Lords Appellant. By 1389 Richard the second had regained
control of the government, and for the next eight years he governed in relative
harmony with his former opponents. Isabelle of France (1389-1409), the oldest


daughter of King Charles V1 of France, was not quite seven years old when she
married Richard the second as his second wife in 1396.
In 1397, Richard the second, took his revenge on the Lords Appellants, and many of
them were executed or exiled. The next two years have been described by historians
as Richard's "tyranny".
In 1399, after John of Gaunt died, Richard the second disinherited John of Gaunt's
son, Henry of Bolingbroke. Henry of Bolingbroke had previously been exiled. Later
that year in 1399 Henry of Bolingbroke invaded England with a small force that
quickly grew in numbers. Claiming initially that his goal was only to reclaim his
patrimony, it soon became clear that he intended to claim the English throne for
himself. Meeting little resistance, Henry of Bolingbroke deposed Richard the second
who was childless and he had himself crowned as King Henry IV. Richard the second
died in prison early the next year; he was probably murdered.
As an individual, Richard was said to have been tall, good-looking and intelligent.
Though probably not insane, as earlier historians used to believe, he may have
suffered from a personality disorder towards the end of his reign. Less of a warrior
than either his father or grandfather, he sought to bring an end to the Hundred Years'
War that Edward the third had started. He was a firm believer in the royal prerogative,
something which led him to restrain the power of his nobility, and to rely on a private
retinue for military protection instead. He also cultivated a courtly atmosphere in
which the king was an elevated figure, and art and culture were at the centre, in
contrast to the fraternal, martial court of his grandfather.
Richard's posthumous reputation has to a large extent been shaped by Shakespeare,
whose play Richard II portrayed Richard's misrule and his deposition by Bolingbroke
as responsible for the fifteenth-century Wars of the Roses. Present day historians do
not accept this interpretation, while not exonerating Richard from responsibility for
his own deposition. Most authorities agree that, even though his policies were not
unprecedented or entirely unrealistic, the way in which he carried them out was
unacceptable to the political establishment, and this led to his eventual downfall


JOHN OF GAUNT, 1st Duke of Lancaster, KG (6 March 1340 3 February 1399)
was a member of the House of Plantagenet. He was the third surviving son of King
Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault. Edward the Black Prince was the
first son of Edward the third, William of Hatfield was the second son who died shortly
after birth Lionel of Antwerp was the third son of Edward the third and John of Gaunt
was the fourth son. He was called "John of Gaunt" because he was born in Ghent,
then rendered in English as Gaunt. When he became unpopular later in life, scurrilous
rumours and lampoons circulated that he was actually the son of a Ghent butcher,
perhaps because Edward the third was not present at his birth. This story always drove
him to fury.
John of Gaunt was a younger brother of Edward, Prince of Wales (Edward, the Black
Prince), and John exercised great influence over the English throne during the
minority rule of the Black Princes son Richard the second. But he was not thought to
have been among the opponents of the king.
John of Gaunt the Duke of Lancasters legitimate male heirs, from the house of
Lancaster, included Henry the fourth, Henry the fifth , and Henry the sixth. Other
legitimate descendants by his first wife, Blanche ,were his daughters Queen Philippa


of Portugal and Elizabeth, Duchess of Exeter; and by his second wife, Constance, his
daughter Queen Catherine of Castile. John of Gaunt also fathered five children
outside marriage, one early in life by a lady-in-waiting to his mother, and four
surnamed "Beaufort" (after a former French possession) by Katherine Swynford, John
of Gaunt's long-term mistress and who eventually became his third wife.

The illegitimate Beaufort children, three sons and a daughter were legitimised by
royal and papal decrees after John and Katherine Swynford married in 1396. A later
proviso that they were specifically barred from inheriting the throne, the phrase
excepta regali dignitate (English: except royal status), was inserted with dubious
authority by their half-brother Henry the fourth. Later the legitimate descendants of
John of Gaunts marriage to Katherine Swynford included Henry Beaufort the Bishop
of Winchester; Cardinal Joan Beaufort the Countess of Westmorland, the
grandmother of Edward the fourth and Richard the third; John Beaufort the first Earl
of Somerset, the grandfather of Margret Beaufort, the mother of King Henry the
seventh; and Joan Beaufort, Queen of Scots, from whom are descended all subsequent
sovereigns of Scotland from 1437, and all the sovereigns of England, of Great Britain
and Ireland, and of the United Kingdom from 1603 to the present day.
The three succeeding houses of English sovereigns from 1399, the Houses of
Lancaster, York and Tudor, were descended from John of Gaunt via his legitimate
children Henry Bolingbroke, Joan Beaufort and John Beaufort, respectively.
John of Gaunts eldest son and heir, Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Hereford, was
exiled for ten years by King Richard the second in 1398 as resolution to a dispute
between the Duke of Hereford and Thomas de Mowbray the Duke of Norfolk. When


John of Gaunt died in 1399, Gaunts estates and titles were declared forfeit to the
crown, and Richard the second named Gaunts eldest son Henry Bollingbroke the
Duke of Hereford as a traitor and changed his exile sentence to one of life. Henry
Bolingbroke however, returned from exile to reclaim his inheritance and he eventually
deposed Richard the second. Bolingbroke then took the crown and reigned as King
Henry the fourth of England (13991413), the first of the descendants of John of
Gaunt to hold the throne of England. Due to some generous land grants, John of
Gaunt was not only one of the richest men in his time, but also one of the wealthiest
men to have ever lived. Taking into account inflation rates, John was worth a modern
equivalent of $110 billion, making him the sixteenth richest man in history.

John of Gaunt was the fourth son of King Edward the third of England. Gaunts first
wife, Blanche, was also his third cousin; they were both great great grandchildren of
Henry the third. They married in 1359 at Reading Abbey, Edward the third always
arranged matches for his sons with wealthy heiresses. Upon the death of his father-inlaw in 1361, John of Gaunt inherited half his lands, the title Earl of Lancaster, and the
distinction of being the greatest landowner in the north of England. He also became
the 14th Baron of Halton and 11th Lord of Bowland. John inherited the rest when his
wife Blanche's sister, Maud, Countess of Leicester who was married to William V,
Count of Hainaut, died on 10 April 1362.
John received the title "Duke of Lancaster" from his father Edward the third on 13
November 1362. He was by then well established, owning at least thirty castles and
estates across England and France. His household was comparable in scale and
organization to that of a monarch. He owned land in almost every county in England,
producing a net income of between 8,000 and 10,000 a year, several millions in
today's terms.
After the death of his older brother Edward of Woodstock (also known as the Black
Prince), John of Gaunt contrived to protect the religious reformer John Wycliffe,
possibly to counteract the growing secular power of the Roman Catholic Church.


However, John of Gaunts ascendancy to political power coincided with widespread

resentment of his influence. At a time when English forces encountered setbacks in
the Hundred Years' War against France, and Edward the thirds rule was becoming
unpopular due to high taxation and his affair with Alice Perrers, political opinion
closely associated the Duke of Lancaster with the failing government of the 1370s.
Furthermore, while Edward the third and his son the Prince of Wales, were popular
heroes due to their successes on the battlefield, John of Gaunt the Duke of Lancaster
had not won equivalent military renown that could have bolstered his reputation.
Although he fought in the Battle of Njera, for example, his later military projects
however were unsuccessful.

When Edward the third died in 1377 and John of Gaunts ten-year-old nephew
succeeded as Richard the second of England, Gaunts influence strengthened.
However, mistrust remained, and some suspected him of wanting to seize the throne
himself. John of Gaunt took great pains to ensure that he never became associated
with the opposition to Richard the seconds kingship. As a virtual ruler during
Richard's minority, Gaunt made some unwise decisions on taxation that led to the
Peasants' Revolt in 1381. The rebels destroyed Gaunts Savoy Palace in London.
Unlike some of Richard the seconds other unpopular advisors, John of Gaunt
however was away from London at the time of the uprising and thus avoided the
wrath of the rebels.
In 1386, John of Gaunt left England to claim the throne of Castile; his claim was
through his marriage to his second wife, Constance of Castille. However, crisis in
England ensued almost immediately thereafter, when in 1387 Richard the seconds
misrule brought England to the brink of civil war. Only John of Gaunt, on his return
to England in 1389, was able to persuade the Lords Appellant and Richard the second
to compromise. The compromise led to a period of relative stability and during the
1390s, John's reputation of devotion to the well-being of the kingdom was largely
restored. John died of natural causes on 3 February 1399 at Leicester Castle, with his
third wife Katherine by his side.

Because of his rank John of Gaunt was one of England's principal military
commanders in the 1370s and 1380s, though his enterprises were never rewarded with
the kind of dazzling success that had made his elder brother the Edward the Black
Prince such a charismatic war leader.
On the resumption of war with France in 1369, John of Gaunt was sent to Calais with
the Earl of Hereford and a small English army with which he raided into northern
France. On 23 August he was confronted by a much larger French army under Philip,
Duke of Burgundy.

Exercising his first command, Gaunt dared not attack such a superior force and the
two armies faced each other across a marsh for several weeks until the English were
reinforced by the Earl of Warwick, at which time the French withdrew without
offering battle. Gaunt and Warwick then decided to strike Harfleur, the base of the
French fleet on the Seine. Further reinforced by German mercenaries, they marched
on Harfleur but were delayed by French guerilla operations while the town prepared
for a siege. Gaunt and Warwick sieged Harfleur for four days in October, but they
were losing so many men to dysentery and bubonic plague that he decided to abandon
the siege and return to Calais. During this retreat the army had to fight its way across
the Somme at the ford of Blanchetaque against a French army led by Hugh de

Hugh de Chatillon was captured and sold to Edward the third. The

survivors of the sickly army returned to Calais, where the Earl of Warwick died of
plague, by the middle of November. Though it seemed an inglorious conclusion to the
campaign, John of Gaunt had forced the French king, Charles V, to abandon his plans
to invade England that autumn.
In the summer of 1370 John of Gaunt was sent with a small army to Aquitaine to
reinforce his ailing elder brother, Edward the Black Prince and his younger brother
Edmund of Langley the Earl of Cambridge. . With them he participated in the siege
and sacking of Limoges in September 1370, taking charge of the siege operations and


at one point engaging in hand-to-hand fighting in the undermining tunnels. After this
event Edward the Black Prince surrendered his lordship of Aquitaine and sailed for
England, leaving his brother John of Gaunt in charge. Though Gaunt attempted to
defend the Duchy of Aquitiane against the French encroachment for nearly a year, a
lack of resources and money meant he could do little but rule over what little territory
the English still controlled, and he resigned the command in September 1371 and
returned to England. Just before leaving Aquitaine, on 21 September 1371 John of
Gaunt married Infanta Constance of Castile at Roquefort, near Bordeaux, Guienne.
The following year he took part with his father, Edward the third in an abortive
attempt to invade France with a large army, which was frustrated by three months of
unfavourable winds.

Probably Gaunts most notable feat of arms occurred in AugustDecember 1373,

when he attempted to relieve Aquitaine by the landward route. Gaunt led an army of
some 9,000 mounted men from Calais on a great ride from north-eastern to southwestern France on a 900 kilometer raid. This four-month ride through enemy territory,
evading French armies on the way, was a bold stroke which impressed many
contemporaries but Gaunt achieved virtually nothing. Beset on all sides by French
ambushes and plagued by disease and starvation, John of Gaunt and his raiders battled
their way through Champagne, east of Paris, into Burgundy, across the Central Plain,
and finally down into Dordogne. Unable to attack any strongly fortified forts and
cities, the raiders plundered the countryside, raiding towns and villages, weakening
the French infrastructure, but the military value of the damage was only temporary.
Marching in winter across the Limousin plateau, with stragglers being picked off by
the French, huge numbers of the army, and even larger numbers of the horses, died of
cold, disease or starvation. The army reached English-occupied Bordeaux on 24
December 1373, severely weakened in numbers and capacity having lost at least onethird of their force in action and another third to disease, and many more succumbed
to the bubonic plague that was raging in the city. Sick, demoralized and mutinous, the
army was in no shape to defend Aquitaine, and soldiers began to desert. Gaunt had no
funds with which to pay them, and despite his entreaties none were sent from
England, so in April 1374 Gaunt abandoned the enterprise, and sailed for home.


John of Gaunts final campaign in France was in 1378; he planned a 'great expedition'
of mounted men in a large armada of ships to land at Brest and take control of
Brittany. Not enough ships could be found to transport the horses, and the expedition
was tasked with the more limited objective of capturing St. Malo. The English
destroyed the shipping in St. Malo harbour and began to assault the town by land on
14 August, but Gaunt was soon hampered by the size of his army, which was unable
to forage because French armies under Olivier de Clisson and Bertrand du Guesclin
occupied the surrounding countryside, and were harrying the edges of his force. In
September the siege was simply abandoned and the army returned ingloriously to
England. John of Gaunt received most of the blame for the debacle.

Partly as a result of these failures, and those of other English commanders at this
period, John of Gaunt was one of the first important figures in England to conclude
that the war with France was unwinnable because of France's greater resources of
wealth and manpower. He began to advocate peace negotiationsindeed as early as
1373, during his great raid through France, he made contact with Guillaume Roger,
brother and political adviser of Pope Gregory XI, to let the Pope know he would be
interested in a diplomatic conference under papal auspices. This approach led
indirectly to the Anglo-French Congress of Bruges in 137477, which resulted in a
short-lived truce between England and France. Gaunt was a delegate to the various
conferences that eventually resulted in the Truce of Leulinghem in 1389. The fact that
he became identified with the attempts to make peace added to his unpopularity at a
period when the majority of Englishmen believed victory would be in their grasp if
the French could be roundly defeated as they had been in the 1350s. Another motive
was John of Gaunts conviction that it was only by making peace with France that it
would be possible to release sufficient manpower for him to enforce his claim to the
throne of Castile.
On his return from France in 1374, John took a more decisive and persistent role in
the direction of English foreign policy, and from then until 1377 because his father
and elder brother were both ill and unable to exercise their authority, he was
effectively the head of the English government. Through his vast estates he was the


richest man in England, and his great wealth, ostentatious display of it, autocratic
manner and attitudes, enormous London mansion, the Savoy Palace on the Strand and
association with the failed peace process at Bruges combined to make him the most
visible target of social resentments.
Gaunts time at the head of government was marked by the so-called Good Parliament
of 1376 and the Bad Parliament of 1377. This turned into a parliamentary revolution,
with the Commons (supported to some extent by the Lords) venting their grievances
at decades of crippling taxation, misgovernment and suspected endemic corruption
among the ruling classes.

John of Gaunt was left isolated (even the Edward the Black Prince supported the need
for reform) and the Commons refused to grant money for the war unless most of the
great officers of state were dismissed, and the King's mistress Alice Perrers, another
focus of popular resentment, was barred from any further association with him. Even
after the government acceded to virtually all their demands, the Commons then
refused to authorize any finance for the war, losing the sympathy of the Lords as a
The death of the Black Prince on 8 June 1376 and the onset of Edward the thirds last
illness at the closing of Parliament on 10 July left Gaunt with all the reins of power.
He immediately had the ailing King grant pardons to all the officials impeached by
the Parliament; Alice Perrers too was reinstated at the heart of the King's household.
Gaunt impeached William of Wykeham and other leaders of the reform movement,
and secured their conviction, on old or trumped-up charges. The parliament of 1377
was Gaunts counter-coup. Crucially, the Lords no longer supported the Commons
and Gaunt was able to have most of the acts of 1376 annulled. He also succeeded in
forcing the Commons to agree to the imposition of the first Poll Tax in English
history, a viciously regressive measure that bore hardest on the poorest members of
society. There was organized opposition to his measures, and rioting in London: John
of Gaunt's arms were reversed or defaced wherever they were displayed, and
protestors pasted up lampoons on his supposedly dubious birth. At one point he was
forced to take refuge across the river Thames, while his Savoy Palace only just

escaped looting. It was rumoured and believed by many people in England and France
that Gaunt intended to seize the throne for himself and supplant the rightful heir, his
nephew Richard, who was Edward the Black Prince's son, but there seems to have
been no truth in this and on the death of Edward the third and the accession of the
child Richard the second, Gaunt sought no position of regency for himself and
withdrew to his estates.
His personal unpopularity persisted, however, and the failure of his expedition to
Saint-Malo in 1378 did nothing for his reputation. By this time, some of his
possessions were taken from him by the Crown. His ship, the Dieulagarde, for
example, was seized and bundled with other royal ships to be sold to pay off the debts
of Sir Robert de Crull who had advanced monies to pay for King Edward the thirds
ships during the latter part of his reign
During the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, John of Gaunt was far from the centre of events,
but he was among those named by the rebels as a traitor to be beheaded as soon as he
could be found. Gaunts Savoy Palace was systematically destroyed by the mob, and
burned to the ground. Lords who were normally friendly to him and even his own
fortresses closed their gates to him, and John was forced to flee into Scotland with a
handful of retainers and throw himself on the charity of the Scottish King Robert II
until the crisis was over.
On John of Gaunts marriage to Infanta Constance of Castile in 1371, John assumed
(officially from 29 January 1372) the title of King of Castile and Len in the right of
his wife. Gaunt insisted his fellow English nobles henceforth address him as 'My lord
of Spain.' He incorporated his arms with those of the Spanish kingdom. From 1372
John gathered around himself a small court of refugee Castilian knights and ladies and
set up a Castilian chancery which prepared documents in his name according to the
style of Peter of Castile. These were dated by the Castilian era and signed by himself
and with the Spanish pre cursor 'Yo El Rey' (I, the King). He hatched several schemes
to make good his claim with an army, but for many years these were not fruitful due
to lack of finance or the conflicting claims of war in France or with Scotland. It was
only in 1386, after Portugal under its new king John of Avis had entered into full
alliance with England, that Gaunt was actually able to land with an army in Spain and
mount an ultimately unsuccessful campaign for the throne of Castile. John sailed from


England on 9 July 1386 with a huge Anglo-Portuguese fleet, carrying an army of

about 5,000 men plus an extensive 'royal' household and his wife and daughters.
Pausing on the journey to use his army to drive off the French forces who were then
besieging Brest, he landed at Corunna in northern Spain on 29 July.
The Castilian king, John of Trastmara, had expected Gaunt would land in Portugal
and had concentrated his forces on the Portuguese border; he was therefore wrongfooted by Gaunt's decision to invade Galicia in northern Spain, the most distant and
disaffected of Castile's provinces.

From August to October, John of Gaunt set up a rudimentary court and chancery at
Ourense and received the submission of most of the towns of Galicia, though they
made their homage to him conditional on his being recognized as king by the rest of
Castile. While John of Gaunt had gambled on an early decisive battle, the Castilians
were in no hurry to join battle, and he began to experience difficulties keeping his
army together and paying it. In November he met Joao I of Portugal at Ponte do
Mouro on the south side of the Minho River and concluded an agreement with him to
make a joint Anglo-Portuguese invasion of central Castile early in 1387. The treaty
was sealed by the marriage of John's eldest daughter Philippa to the Portuguese King.
A large part of Gaunts army had succumbed to sickness, however, and when the
invasion was mounted they were far outnumbered by their Portuguese allies. The
campaign (AprilJune 1387) was an ignominious failure.
The Castilians refused to offer battle and the Anglo-Portuguese troops, apart from
time-wasting sieges of fortified towns; they were reduced to foraging for food in the
arid Spanish landscape. They were harried mainly by French mercenaries of the
Castilian King. Many hundreds of English, including close friends and retainers of
John of Gaunt, died of disease or exhaustion. Many deserted or abandoned the army
to ride north under French safe-conducts. Shortly after the army returned to Portugal,
John of Gaunt concluded a secret treaty with John of Trastmara under which he and
his wife renounced all claim to the Castilian throne in return for a large annual


payment and the marriage of their daughter Catherine to John of Trastmara's son
Gaunt left Portugal for Aquitaine, and he remained in that province until he returned
to England in November 1389. This effectively kept him off the scene while England
endured the major political crisis of the conflict between Richard the second and the
Lords Appellant, who were led by John of Gaunt's younger brother Thomas of
Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester. Only four months after his return to England, in
March 1390, Richard the second formally invested Gaunt with the Duchy of
Aquitaine, thus providing him with the overseas territory he had long desired.
However Gaunt did not immediately return to Aquitaine, but remained in England and
mainly ruled Aquitaine as an absentee Duke.
His administration of the province was a disappointment, and his appointment as
Duke was much resented by the Gascons, since Aquitaine had previously always been
held directly by the King of England or his heir. In 139495, Gaunt was forced to
spend nearly a year in Gascony to shore up his position in the face of threats of
secession by the Gascon nobles. He was one of England's principal negotiators in the
diplomatic exchanges with France that led to the Truce of Leulingham in 1396, and he
initially agreed to join the French-led Crusade that ended in the disastrous Battle of
Nicopolis, but withdrew due to ill-health and the political problems in Gascony and

For the remainder of his life John of Gaunt occupied the role of valued

counselor of Richard the second and loyal supporter of the Crown. He did not even
protest, it seems, when his younger brother Thomas was murdered at Richard the
seconds behest. It may be that he felt he had to maintain this posture of loyalty to the
Richard the second in order to protect his son Henry Bolingbroke (the future Henry
the fourth), from Richard the seconds wrath. But in 1398 Richard the second had
Henry Bolingbroke exiled, On John of Gaunt's death in 1399, Richard the second
disinherited Bolingbroke completely, seizing Gaunt's vast estates for the Crown.



HENRY 1V (15 April 1367 20 March 1413) was King of England and Lord of
Ireland (13991413). He was the ninth King of England of the House of Plantagenet
and also asserted his grandfather's claim to the title King of France. He was born at
Bolingbroke Castle in Lincolnshire, hence his other name, Henry of Bolingbroke.
His father, John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster was the fourth son of Edward the
third and Henry enjoyed a position of considerable influence during much of the reign
of his cousin Richard the second whom he eventually deposed and had imprisoned.
Henry the fourths mother was Blanche, John of Gaunts first wife and heiress to the
considerable Lancaster estates, and thus Henry the Fourth became the first King of
England from the Lancaster branch of the Plantagenets.
Richard the second who was the son of the Edward the thirds oldest son the Black
Prince was forced to abdicate the throne in 1399. According to Edward the thirds
entailment of 1396, Henry Bolingbroke, the fourth the son of John of Gaunt was
deemed to be next in line to the throne. This was because Edward the thirds second
son had died soon after birth, Edward the thirds third son Lionel of Antwerp was
dead and he left only a daughter, Phillipa, and which left Henry Bolingbroke the son
of John of Gaunt Edward the thirds fourth son as successors to the crown


However, Richard the second is believed to have made a further entailment in 1399
which superseded Edward the thirds previous entailment. In Richards entailment
the heir to Richard the second, was Edmund Mortimer, the Earl of March, who was
the son of Phillipa the daughter of Lionel of Antwerp. Lionel of Antwerp was the
third son of Edward the third and had a superior claim because Henry of Bollingbroke
had descended from John of Gaunt who was the fourth son of Edward the third.
The problem was solved by emphasizing Henry's descent in a direct male line,
whereas Edmund Mortimers descent had been through his mother, Phillipa. The
official account of events claims that Richard the second voluntarily agreed to resign
his crown to Henry the fourth on 29 September. The country had rallied behind Henry
and supported his claim in parliament. However, the question of the succession never
went away.
The problem lay in the fact that Henry the fourth who was the most prominent male
heir, but he was not the most senior heir in terms of descent from Edward the third.
He was heir to the throne according to Edward the third's entailment to the crown of
1376, but, as this entailment could have been supplanted by an entailment made by
Richard the second in 1399. Henry therefore had to overcome the superior claims of
Edmund Mortimer.

This difficulty was further compounded when the Edmund

Mortimer claim to the throne was merged with the Yorkist claim in the person of
Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York.
In 1399 Henry Bolingbroke met with the exiled Thomas Arundel, former Archbishop
of Canterbury, who had lost his position because of his involvement with the Lords
Appellant. Henry Bolingbroke and Arundel returned to England while Richard was on
a military campaign in Ireland. With Arundel as his advisor, Henry began a military
campaign, confiscating land from those who opposed him and ordered his soldiers to
destroy much of Cheshire. Henry quickly gained enough power and support and he
had Richard the second imprisoned. Richard the second later died in prison under
mysterious circumstances, and Henry Bolingbroke was able to bypass Richard the
seconds seven-year-old heir-presumptive, Edmund Mortimer and to declare himself
Henry the fourth. Henry's coronation, on 13 October 1399, may have marked the first
time following the Norman Conquest when the monarch made an address in English.


Henry the fourth consulted with Parliament frequently, but was sometimes at odds
with the members, especially over ecclesiastical matters. On Arundel's advice, Henry
obtained from Parliament the enactment of De heretico comburendo in 1401, which
prescribed the burning of heretics. This was done mainly to suppress the Lollard
movement, which was a political and religious movement that existed from the mid14th century to the English Reformation. The term "Lollard" refers to the followers of
John Wycliffe, a prominent theologian who was dismissed from the University of
Oxford in 1381 for criticism of the Church, especially in his doctrine on the Eucharist.

The Lollards' demands were primarily for reform of Western Christianity. Lollard was
the popular derogatory nickname given to those without an academic background,
educated if at all only in English, who were reputed to follow the teachings of John
Wycliffe in particular, and were certainly considerably energized by the translation of
the Bible into the English language. By the mid-15th century the term lollard had
come to mean a heretic in general. The alternative, "Wycliffite", is generally accepted
to be a more neutral term covering those of similar opinions, but having an academic
Parliament suggested in 1410 that church land should be confiscated. Henry the fourth
refused to attack the Church that had helped him to power, and the bill was struck of
the records by the House of Commons.
Henry the fourths first major problem as monarch was what to do with the deposed
Richard the second. After an early assassination plot, the Epiphany Rising was foiled
in January 1400, and Richard the second died in prison of starvation. He was thirtythree years old. Though Henry the fourth is often suspected of having his predecessor
murdered, there is no substantial evidence to prove that claim. Some chroniclers
claimed that the despondent Richard had starved himself. With what is known of
Richard the seconds character this is a scenario that would not have been out of


Though some records indicate that provisions were made for the transportation of the
deposed king's body on 17 February, there is no reason to believe that he did not die
on 14 February. It can be positively said that he did not suffer a violent death, for his
skeleton, upon later examination, bore no signs of violence; whether he did indeed
starve himself or whether that starvation was forced upon him are matters for
historical speculation. After his death, Richard the seconds body was put on public
display in the old St Paul's Cathedral to prove to his supporters that he was truly dead.
This however did not stop rumours from circulating for many years after, that he was
still alive and waiting to take back his throne.
Henry the fourth had Richard the seconds body discreetly buried in the Dominican
Priory at King's Langley in Hertfordshire, where he remained until Henry the fifth
brought his body back to London and buried him in the tomb that Richard had
commissioned for himself in Westminster Abbey
The later years of Henry the fourths reign were marked by serious health problems.
He had a disfiguring skin disease and, more seriously, he suffered acute attacks of
some grave illness in June 1405; in April 1406; in June 1408; during the winter of
140809; in December 1412; and finally a bout in March 1413 from which he died.
Medical historians have long debated the nature of this affliction or afflictions. The
skin disease might have been leprosy which did not necessarily mean precisely the
same thing in the 15th century as it does to modern medicine, it could have been
psoriasis, or some other skin disease. The acute attacks have been given a wide range
of explanations, from epilepsy to some form of cardiovascular disease.


medieval writers felt that he was struck with leprosy as a punishment for his treatment
of Richard le Scrope the Archbishop of York, who was executed in June 1405 on
Henry the fourths orders after a failed coup
According to some sources it was predicted that Henry the fourth would die in
Jerusalem, and Shakespeare's play restates this prophecy. Henry the fourth took this to
mean that he would die on crusade. In reality however, he died in the Jerusalem
chamber of the house of the Abbot of Westminster, on 20 March 1413.
Despite the example set by most of his recent predecessors, Henry the fourth and his
second wife, Joan of Navarre, Queen of England, were buried not at Westminster
Abbey but at Canterbury Cathedral, on the north side of Trinity Chapel and directly


adjacent to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket. Becket's cult was then still thriving, as
evidenced in the monastic accounts and in literary works such as Chaucer's
'Canterbury Tales', and Henry the fourth seemed particularly devoted to it, or at least
keen to be associated with it.
The reasons for his interment in Canterbury are debatable, but it is highly likely that
Henry the fourth deliberately associated himself with Thomas Becket, the martyr saint
for reasons of political expediency. Namely, the legitimization of his dynasty after
seizing the throne from Richard the second. Significantly, at his coronation, he was
anointed with holy oil that had reportedly been given to Thomas Becket by the Virgin
Mary. This oil was placed inside a distinct eagle-shaped container of gold. According
to one version of the tale, the oil had then passed to Henry's maternal grandfather,
Henry of Grosmont, First Duke of Lancaster.

The proof of Henry's deliberate connection to Saint Thomas Becket lies partially in
the structure of Henry the fourths tomb. The wooden panel at the western end of his
tomb bears a painting of the Martyrdom of Becket. The Tester, or wooden canopy,
above the tomb is painted with Henry's personal motto, 'Soverayne', alternated by
crowned golden eagles. Likewise, the three large coats of arms that dominate the
painting on the Tester are surrounded by collars of SS, a golden eagle enclosed in
each tiret. The presence of eagle motifs points directly to Henry's coronation oil and
his ideological association with Saint Thomas Becket. Sometime after the King's
death, this imposing tomb was built for him and his wife Queen Joan. This was most
likely commissioned and paid for by Queen Joan herself. On top the tomb chest lie
detailed alabaster effigies of the King and Queen, crowned and dressed in their
ceremonial robes. Henry's body was evidently well-embalmed, as an exhumation in
1832 established, allowing historians to state with reasonable certainty that the
effigies do represent accurate portraiture.
Henry the fourth was succeeded by his eldest son by his first wife Mary de Bohun,
who became Henry the fifth


Kings Langley is a historic town and civil parish in Hertfordshire, England, 21 miles
northwest of central London to the south of the Chiltern Hills It was once the location
of Kings Langley Palace, a royal palace of the Plantagenet kings of England. The 12th
century parish church of All Saints' houses the tomb of Edmund of Langley (1341
1402), the fourth son of Edward the third and also the first Duke of York. The placename Langley is first attested here in a Saxon charter of circa 1050, where it appears
as Langalega. It is spelt Langelai in the Domesday Book of 1086, and is recorded as
Langel' Regis in 1254. The name means 'long wood or clearing'. The Church of All
Saints was built during the 14th century on the site of an earlier church. The body of
King Richard II was buried here for a time after his probable murder at Pontefract
Castle in 1400. It was later removed to Westminster Abbey.

HENRY V (16 September 1386 31 August 1422 was King of England from 1413
until his death at the age of 35 in 1422. He was the second English monarch who
came from the House of Lancaster.
After military experience fighting various lords who rebelled against his father, Henry
the fourth, Henry came into political conflict with the increasingly unwell king. After
his father's death, Henry rapidly assumed control of the country and embarked on a
war with France in the ongoing Hundred Years' War (1337 to 1453) between the two
nations. His military successes culminated in his famous victory at the Battle of
Agincourt and saw him come very close to conquering France. After months of
negotiation with Charles VI of France, the Treaty of Troyes recognized Henry V as
regent and heir-apparent to the French throne, and he was subsequently married to
Charles V1s daughter, Catherine of Valois. Following Henry the fifths sudden and
unexpected death in 1422 in France, he was succeeded by his infant son who was his
only son with Catherine of Valois and who reigned as Henry VI
Henry the fifth features in three plays by William Shakespeare. He is shown as a
young scapegrace who redeems himself in battle in the two Henry IV plays and as a
decisive leader in the Henry V play.





was a major English victory in the

Hundred Years' War. The battle occurred on Friday, 25 October 1415 on Saint
Crispin's Day, near modern-day Azincourt, in northern France. Henry the fifths
victory at Agincourt, against a numerically superior French army, crippled France and
started a new period in the war during which Henry the Fifth married the French
king's daughter Catherine of Valois, and Henry's son, who became Henry the sixth
was made heir to the throne of France.
Henry the fifth led his troops into battle and participated in the hand-to-hand fighting.
The French king of the time, Charles VI, did not command the French army himself
as he suffered from severe, repeating illnesses and moderate mental incapacitation.
Instead, the French were commanded by Constable Charles d'Albret and various
prominent French noblemen of the Armagnac party.
The battle is notable for the use of the English longbow, which Henry the fifth used in
very large numbers, with English and Welsh archers forming most of his army.
The battle is the centrepiece of the play Henry V, by William Shakespeare


HENRY V1 (6 December 1421 21 May 1471) was King of England from 1422 to
1461 and again from 1470 to 1471, he also was the disputed King of France from
1422 to 1453. He was the only son of Henry the fifth and Catherine of Valois and
until 1437, because he was under age. his realm was governed by Regents.
Contemporary accounts described him as peaceful and pious, not suited for the
dynastic wars, such as the Wars of the Roses, which commenced during his reign. His
periods of insanity and his inherent benevolence eventually required his wife,
Margaret of Anjou, to assume control of his kingdom, which eventually contributed to
his own downfall, the collapse of the House of Lancaster, and the rise of the House of
Henry was the only child and heir of King Henry the fifth and Catherine of Valois. He
was born on 6 December 1421 at Windsor Castle, and was named Henry of Windsor.
He succeeded to the throne at the age of nine months as King of England on 31
August 1422 when his father died, thus making him the youngest person ever to
succeed to the English throne. Two months later, on 21 October 1422, he became
titular King of France upon his grandfather Charles VI of Frances death. This was in
accordance with the Treaty of Troyes in 1420. His mother, Catherine of Valois, was
then 20 years old and because she was Charles VI's daughter, she was viewed with


considerable suspicion by English nobles who prevented her from having a full role in
her son's upbringing.
On 28 September 1423, the nobles swore loyalty to Henry the sixth, the two year old
King. They summoned Parliament in the King's name and established a regency
council until the King should come of age. One of Henry V's surviving brothers, John,
Duke of Bedford, was appointed senior regent of the realm and he was also in charge
of the ongoing war in France. During the Duke of Bedford's absence, the government
of England was headed by Henry the fifth's other surviving brother, Humphrey, Duke
of Gloucester, who was appointed Protector and Defender of the Realm. His duties
were limited to keeping the peace and summoning Parliament. Henry the fifths half
uncle Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester also had an important place on the
Council. After the Duke of Bedford died in 1435, the Duke of Gloucester claimed
control of the senior regency for himself, but this was contested in this by the other
members of the council.
From 1428, the infant kings tutor was Richard de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick,
whose father had been instrumental in the opposition to Richard the seconds reign.
Henry's half-brothers, Edmund Tudor and Jasper Tudor, the sons of his widowed
mother's previous relationship with Owen Tudor, were later given earldoms. Edmund
Tudor was the father of Henry Tudor, who was later to gain the throne as Henry VII.
Henry was crowned Henry the sixth, King of England at Westminster Abbey on 6
November 1429. This was followed by his coronation as King of France at Notre
Dame de Paris on 16 December 1431. Although it was not until a month before his
sixteenth birthday on 13 November in 1437, that he obtained some measure of
independent authority. Indications of a growing willingness to involve himself in
administration were apparent in 1434 when writs temporarily changed their dating
from Westminster, where the Privy Council was, to Cirencester, where the king was.
He finally assumed full royal powers when he came of age in 1437
Henry was declared of age in 1437 when he was sixteen years of age. This was also
the year in which his mother Catherine of Valois died. He assumed the reins of
government. Henry, shy and pious, averse to deceit and bloodshed, immediately
allowed his court to be dominated by a few noble favourites who clashed on the
matter of the French war.

After the death of King Henry V, England had lost momentum in the Hundred Years'
War, and beginning with Joan of Arc's military victories, the Valois family in France
had gained ground. Henry the sixrh, now in full control, came to favour a policy of
peace in France, and thus favoured the faction around Cardinal Beaufort and William
de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk, who also were of this opinion. On the other hand,
Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, and Richard, Duke of York, argued for a continuation
of the war. But they were ignored.
Cardinal Beaufort and the Earl of Suffolk persuaded the king that the best way of
pursuing peace with France was through a marriage with Margaret of Anjou, who was
the niece of King Charles VII. Henry agreed, especially when he heard reports of
Margaret's stunning beauty. He sent the Earl of Suffolk to negotiate with Charles.
Charles agreed to the marriage on condition that he would not have to provide the
customary dowry and instead would receive the lands of Maine and Anjou from the
These conditions were agreed to in the Treaty of Tours, but the loss of Maine and
Anjou was kept secret from parliament, as it was known that this would be hugely
unpopular with the English population. The marriage took place at Titchfield Abbey
on 23 April 1445, one month after Margaret of Anjous 15th birthday. She had arrived
with an entire household, composed primarily, not of Angevins, but of members of
Henry the sixths s Royal servants. This increase in the size of the royal household
and a further increase, on the birth of their son in 1453, led to proportionately greater
expense and also to greater patronage opportunities at Court.
Henry the sixth had wavered in the yielding the lands of Maine and Anjou to Charles
He knew that the move was unpopular and it would be opposed by the Dukes of
Gloucester and York. However, Margaret of Anjou, now Henrys wife was
determined to make him see it through. As the Treaty of Tours became public
knowledge in 1446, public anger focused on the Duke of Suffolk, but Henry the sixth
and his wife Margaret of Anjou determined to protect him.
In 1447, Henry the sixth and his Queen Margaret summoned the Duke of Gloucester
before parliament on the charge of treason. This move was instigated by Gloucester's
enemies, the Earl of Suffolk, the ageing Cardinal Beaufort and his nephew, Edmund
Beaufort, Earl of Somerset. The Duke of Gloucester was put in custody in Bury St


Edmunds, where he died, probably of a heart attack, although there were rumours of
poisoning. Richard the Duke of York, now Henry's heir presumptive was sent to
govern Ireland, while his opponents, the Earls of Suffolk and Somerset were
promoted to Dukes. A title at that time still normally reserved for immediate relatives
of the monarch. The new Duke of Somerset was sent to France to lead the war.
In the later years of Henry the sixths reign, the monarchy became increasingly
unpopular. This was due to a breakdown in law and order, corruption, the distribution
of royal land to the king's court favourites, the troubled state of the crown's finances,
and the steady loss of territories in France. In 1447, this unpopularity took the form
of a Commons campaign against the Duke of Suffolk.

Suffolk was the most unpopular of the entire King's entourage and was widely seen as
a traitor. He was impeached by Parliament to a background that has been called "the
baying for Suffolks blood to the extent that Suffolk admitted his alarm to the king.
Ultimately, Henry the sixth was forced to send Suffolk into exile. Suffolks ship
however, was intercepted in the English Channel and his murdered body was found
on the beach at Dover.
In 1449, the Duke of Somerset, leading the campaign in France, re-opened hostilities
in Normandy, but by the autumn had been pushed back to Caen. By 1450, the French
forces had retaken the whole province of Normandy, which had been so hard won by
Henry the fifth.

Returning troops, who had often not been paid, added to the

lawlessness in the southern counties of England. Jack Cade led a rebellion in Kent in
1450, calling himself "John Mortimer", apparently in sympathy with the Duke of
York. He set up residence at the White Hart Inn in Southwark, the White Hart had
been the symbol of the deposed King Richard the second. Henry the sixth came to
London with an army to crush the rebellion, but on finding that Jack Cade had fled he
kept most of his troops behind while a small force followed the rebels and eventually
caught up with them at Sevenoaks. The flight by Cade proved to have been tactical
and Cade successfully ambushed Henry the sixths force and beat them in the Battle
of Solefields.

Cade then returned to occupy London. In the end, the rebellion

achieved nothing, and London was retaken after a few days of disorder; but this was

principally because of the efforts of the London residents rather than the army.
However, Cades rebellion did show that feelings of discontent were running high.
In 1451, the Duchy of Guyenne in France, which had been held since Henry the
seconds time, was also lost. In October 1452, an English advance in Guyenne retook
Bordeaux and was having some success but by 1453, Bordeaux was lost again. This
left Calais as England's only remaining territory on the continent.
In 1452, the Duke of York was persuaded to return from Ireland and claim his rightful
place on the council and put an end to bad government. His cause was a popular one,
and he soon raised an army at Shrewsbury.

The court party, meanwhile, raised their own similar-sized force in London. A standoff took place south of London, with the Duke of York presenting a list of grievances
and demands to the court circle, One such demand was the arrest of Edmund
Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset. Henry the sixth initially agreed, but his wife,
Margaret of Anjou, intervened to prevent the arrest of Beaufort. By 1453 the Duke of
Somersets influence had been restored, and the Duke of York was again isolated. The
court party was also strengthened by an announcement by the Queen, Margaret of
Anjou that she was pregnant.

However, on hearing of the final loss of Bordeaux in August 1453, Henry the sixth
had slipped into a mental breakdown and became completely unaware of everything
that was going on around him. This was to last for more than a year, and Henry failed
even to respond to the birth of his own son and heir, who was christened Edward.
Henry possibly inherited his illness from Charles VI of France, his maternal
grandfather, who was struck by intermittent periods of insanity over the last thirty
years of his life.
The Duke of York, meanwhile, had gained a very important ally in the person of
Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick, who was one of the most influential magnates
and possibly richer than the Duke of York himself. Due to Henry the sixths inability
to discharge his duties in 1454 The Duke of York was named regent as Protector of

the Realm.

Margaret of Anjou, the Queen was excluded from this decision

completely, and Edmund Beaufort, the Duke of Somerset was detained in the Tower
of London, while many of the Duke of York's supporters spread rumours that the
king's child by Margaret of Anjou was not his, but Edmund Beaufort's. Other than
that, the Duke of York's months as regent were spent tackling the problem of
government overspending.
On Christmas Day of 1454, Henry the sixth regained his senses. The Earls of
Warwick and Salisbury openly backed the claims of the House of York, the first
claim was to the Regency, and the second claim was to the throne itself.

The Duke of Yorks family was descended from Edmund of Langley who was the
fifth son of Edward the third. Furthermore, descendants of the third son of Edward
the third, Lionel of Antwerp and his wife Phillipa had married into the Yorkist house
and which strengthened the Duke of Yorks claim to the throne.
It was agreed that the Duke of York rather than Henry the sixths son by Margaret of
Anjou would become Henry the sixths successor, despite the Duke of York being
After a violent struggle between the houses of Lancaster and York, during which the
Duke of York was killed by Queen Margaret's forces on 30 December 1460, Henry
the sixth was deposed and imprisoned on 4 March 1461 by the Duke of York's son,
Edward of York. Edward of York pronounced himself King Edward the fourth. At
this time Henry the sixth was suffering such a bout of madness that he was apparently
laughing and singing while the Second Battle of St Albans raged, and which secured
his release. But Edward of York was still able to take the throne, though he failed to
capture Henry the sixth and Margaret of Anjou his queen, who had fled to Scotland.
During the first period of Edward the fourths reign, Lancastrian resistance continued
mainly under the leadership of Henry the sixths Queen Margaret of Anjou and the
few nobles still loyal to her in the northern counties of England and Wales. Henry the
sixth, who had been safely hidden by allies in Scotland, Northumberland and
Yorkshire was captured by King Edward the fourth in 1465 and subsequently held
captive in the Tower of London.


Queen Margaret of Anjou, who was exiled in Scotland and later in France, was
determined to win back the throne on behalf of her husband and their son. By herself,
there was little she could do. However, eventually Edward the fourth had a falling-out
with two of his main supporters: Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, and his own
younger brother George, Duke of Clarence. At the urging of King Louis XI of France
they both formed a secret alliance with Queen Margaret of Anjou. The Earl of
Warwicks daughter was now married to Edward who was Henry the sixth and
Margaret of Anjou's son, and who held the title the Edward of Westminster.

The Earl of Warwick then returned to England, and forced Edward the fourth into
exile, restoring Henry the sixth to the throne on 30 October 1470. However, by this
time, years in hiding followed by years in captivity had taken their toll on Henry the
sixth. The Earl of Warwick and the Duke of Clarence effectively ruled in his name
Henry's return to the throne lasted less than six months. The Earl of Warwick soon
overreached himself by declaring war on Burgundy, whose ruler responded by giving
Edward the fourth the assistance he needed to win back his throne by force. Edward
the fourth returned to England in early 1471, after which he was reconciled with the
Duke of Clarence and killed the Earl of Warwick at the Battle of Barnet. The
Yorkists won a final decisive victory at the Battle of Tewkesbury on 4 May 1471,
where Edward of Westminister the son of Henry the sixth and Margaret of Anjous
was killed.
Henry the Sixth was imprisoned in the Tower of London, in whose Wakefield Tower
he died during the night in May of 1471. It is thought that Henry died of melancholy
on hearing news of the Yorkist victory at the Battle of Tewkesbury and of his son
Edwards death. It is widely suspected, however, that the Yorkist Edward the fourth
who was re-crowned the morning following Henry's death, had in fact ordered his
murder King Henry the sixth was originally buried in Chertsey Abbey; then, in 1485,
his body was moved to St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, by Richard the third.
Henry the sixths one lasting achievement was his fostering of education; he founded
both Eton College and King's College, Cambridge. Continuing a career of
architectural patronage begun by his father. King's College Chapel and Eton College
Chapel respectively and most of his other architectural commissions like his

completion of his father's foundation of Syon Abbey each consisted of a late Gothic
or Perpendicular-style church with a monastic and/or educational foundation attached.
Each year on the anniversary of Henry the sixths death, the Provosts of Eton and
King's College, Cambridge lay white lilies and roses, the floral emblems of those
colleges, on the spot in the Wakefield Tower at the Tower of London where the
imprisoned Henry the sixth was according to tradition, murdered as he knelt at prayer.


EDWARD 1V (28 April 1442 9 April 1483) was King of England from 4 March
1461 until 3 October 1470 and again from 11 April 1471 until his death in 1483. He
was the first Yorkist King of England The first half of his rule was marred by the
violence associated with the Wars of the Roses, but he overcame the Lancastrian
challenge to the throne at Tewkesbury in 1471. He then reigned in peace until his
sudden death in 1483. Before becoming king he was the Fourth Duke of York, the
Seventh Earl of March, the fifth Earl of Cambridge and the ninth Earl of Ulster. He
was also the sixtyfifth Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece.
Edward of York was born at Rouen in France, he was the second child of Richard
who was the third Duke of York and who had a strong genealogical claim to the
throne of England. He was the eldest of the four sons who survived to adulthood.
His younger brother Edmund, Earl of Rutland, died along with his father at Wakefield
on December 30, 1460.
With the support of his cousin Richard Neville, the sixteenth Earl of Warwick known
as the King Maker,

Edward the fourths father, Duke of York had routed the

Lancastrians at the First Battle of St. Albans on May 22, 1455. At this battle, several
prominent Lancastrians including Edmund, Duke of Somerset, Henry Percy and Lord
of Clifford were killed. Additionally, the duke of Somerset's son Henry Beaufort,
Earl of Dorset, Thomas, Earl of Devon and Buckingham were all wounded. This was
the first battle of the conflict that became known as the War of the Roses.
The Duke of York's assertion of his claim to the crown in 1460 was the key escalation
of the Wars of the Roses. When the Duke of York was killed during the Battle of


Wakefield on December 30, 1460, his claim to the throne of England did not die with
him. Instead it passed to his son Edward who succeeded to the title Duke of York.
Edward who was now the Duke of York and the Earl of Warwick united to defeat the
Lancastrians in a succession of battles; at Northampton on July 7, 1460,


Mortimer's Cross on February 23, 1461 and at Towton on March 29, 1461. At the
Battle of Northampton, the Yorkist forces captured Henry the sixth and held him as a
With King Henry the sixth in captivity, his wife and Queen, Margaret of Anjou, led a
Lancastrian army north into the Midlands to fight against uprisings there. Meanwhile
in the south Edward, the Duke of York and the Earl of Warwick's Yorkist forces had
united and occupied London on February 26, 1461. Although the War of the Roses
would continue until the Battle of Tewksbury on May 4, 1471, control of the capital at
London with its departments of state and its financial power and symbolic prestige,
gave the Yorkist forces under Edward the Duke of York a powerful advantage in the
war against the Lancastrians.
On February 17, 1461, Lancastrian forces attacked the Yorkist forces once again at St.
Albans. In the ensuing battle, Henry the sixth was freed from captivity by the
Lancastrians. However, even though St. Albans is only 22 miles from London, the
Lancastrians did not retake the capital city. Thus, in the eyes of the public they
forfeited to the Yorkists all their remaining legitimacy to the throne of England.
Meanwhile in London, the Earl of Warwick had Edward Duke of York declared King
Edward the fourth in March of 1461. Edward strengthened his claim to the throne by
virtually wiping out the Lancastrian army over the course of 1461. Defeat of the
Lancastrians and the decimation of their army at the Battle of Hexham on May 15,
1464 spelled the end of the Lancastrian resistance to the Yorks. King Henry the sixth
escaped from the battle field and disappeared into the remote Pennine Mountains in
northern England, Henry was hidden for an entire year by devoted Lancastrians After
spending a year in hiding Henry the sixth was finally caught and imprisoned in the
Tower of London.
Even at the age of nineteen, Edward the Duke of York and now King Edward the
fourth exhibited remarkable military acumen. He also had a notable physique and was


described as handsome and affable. His height is estimated at 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m),

making him the tallest among all English, Scottish and British monarchs to date.
The Earl of Warwick, believing that he could rule England through Edward the
fourth, pressed Edward to enter into a marital alliance with a major European power.
Indeed, Warwick had already made preliminary arrangements with King Louis XI of
France for Edward to marry King Louis' daughter, Anne of France. Edward the
fourth then alienated Warwick by secretly marrying Elizabeth Woodville, the widow
of a Lancastrian sympathiser, in 1464
Elizabeth Woodvilles mother was Jacquetta of Luxembourg, widow of Henry the
sixths uncle, John of Lancaster, Duke of Bedford, but her father, Richard Woodville,
the first Earl Rivers, was a newly created baron. However, Elizabeth's marriage to
Edward the fourth suddenly made the unmarried among her twelve siblings desirable
matrimonial catches. This new found prestige of the Woodville family created much
jealousy among the nobility of England, but nowhere did it create as much jealousy as
with King Edward the fourths closest advisor, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick.
Although the Woodvilles posed no immediate threat to Warwick's own power,
Warwick resented the influence they had over Edward the fourth. With the aid of
Edward's disaffected younger brother George, Duke of Clarence, Warwick led an
army which defeated Edward the fourths army at the Battle of Edgecote Moor on
July 26, 1469. Edward the fourth was subsequently captured at Olney. The Earl of
Warwick then attempted to rule in Edward's name, but the nobility, many of whom
owed their preferments to the king, were restive, and with the emergence of a
counter-rebellion, Warwick was forced to release Edward the fourth on September 10,
1469. Edward the fourth did not seek to destroy either Warwick or Clarence but
instead sought reconciliation. Nevertheless, when a few months later in March of
1470, a private feud in Lincolnshire broke out between Sir Thomas Burgh of
Gainesville in Lincolnshire and Lord Welles also of Lincolnshire. Warwick and
Clarence chose this opportunity to rebel against Edward the fourth once again. The
Lincolnshire Rebellion against Edward the fourth was defeated and the Duke of
Warwick was forced to flee to France on May 1, 1470. There, he made an alliance
with the former Lancastrian Queen, Margaret of Anjou who was the wife of Henry the
sixth. Louis XI had just come to the throne of France after the death of his father,


King Charles VII on July 25, 1461. The Duke of Warwick had been looking for a
way to cause trouble for Edward the fourth by reinvigorating the Lancastrian claim to
the throne of England. In an accord between Louis X1, Margaret of Anjou and the
Duke of Warwick,

The Duke of Warwick agreed to restore Margaret of Anjous husband Henry the sixth
to the English throne in return for French support for a military invasion of England.
The Duke of Warwick's invasion fleet set sail from France for England on September
9, 1470. When Edward the fourth learned that Warwick's brother, John Neville, 1st
Marquess of Montagu, had also switched to the Lancastrian side, this made Edward
the fourths military position untenable, and Edward the fourth was forced to flee to
Henry the sixth was briefly restored to the throne in 1470 in an event known as the
Redemption of Henry the sixth, and Edward took refuge in Burgundy, accompanied
by his younger brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester. The rulers of Burgundy were his
brother-in-law Charles, Duke of Burgundy, and his sister Margaret of York. Despite
the fact that Charles was initially unwilling to help Edward, the French declared war
on Burgundy. This prompted Charles to give his aid to Edward, and from Burgundy
Edward the fourth raised an army to win back his kingdom.
When Edward the fourth returned to England with a relatively small force, he avoided
capture. The city of York opened its gates to him only after he promised that he had
just come to reclaim his dukedom, just as Henry Bolingbroke had done seventy years
earlier. As Edward marched southwards he began to gather support, and Clarence who
had realised that his fortunes would be better off as brother to a king rather than under
Henry the sixth, reunited with him. Edward the fourth entered London unopposed,
where he took Henry the sixth prisoner. Edward the fourth and his brothers then
defeated the Duke of Warwick at the Battle of Barnet, and with Warwick dead,
Edward the fourth eliminated the remaining Lancastrian resistance at the Battle of
Tewkesbury in 1471. The Lancastrian heir, Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales,


the son of Henry the sixth and Margaret of Anjou, was killed on the battlefield. A few
days later, on the night that Edward the fourth re-entered London, Henry the sixth
died. One contemporary chronicle claimed that his death was due to "melancholy,"
but it is widely suspected that Edward ordered Henry's murder in order to remove the
Lancastrian opposition completely.

Edward the fourths two younger brothers, George, Duke of Clarence, and Richard,
Duke of Gloucester (later to become King Richard the third of England), were married
to Isabel Neville and Anne Neville. Isabel and Anne were both daughters of the Duke of
Warwick by Anne Beauchamp who were rival heirs to the considerable inheritance of
their still-living mother. This led to a dispute between the brothers, George and
Richard. In 1478, George the Duke of Clarence was eventually found guilty of
plotting against Edward the fourth and was imprisoned in the Tower of London and
privately executed on 18 February 1478.
Edward the fourth did not face any further rebellions after his restoration, as the
Lancastrian line had virtually been extinguished, and the only rival left was Henry
Tudor, who was living in exile. In 1475, Edward the fourth declared war on France,
landing at Calais in June. However, the failure of his ally Charles the Duke of
Burgundy, to provide any significant military assistance led him to undertake
negotiations with the French. He came to terms with the Treaty of Picquigny, which
provided him with an immediate payment of 75,000 crowns and a yearly pension of
50,000 crowns. He also backed an attempt by Alexander Stewart, 1st Duke of Albany,
the brother of King James III of Scotland, to take the Scottish throne in 1482. The
Duke of Gloucester led an invasion of Scotland that resulted in the capture of
Edinburgh and the king of the Scots himself, but the Duke of Albany reneged on his
agreement with Edward the fourth and Gloucester decided to withdraw from his
position of strength in Edinburgh. However, Gloucester did recover Berwick-uponTweed.
Edward the fourths health began to fail, and he became subject to an increasing
number of ailments. He fell fatally ill at Easter of 1483, but lingered on long enough
to add some codicils to his will, the most important being his naming of his brother

Richard, Duke of Gloucester, as Protector after his death. He died on 9 April 1483
and was buried in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. He was succeeded by his and
Elizabeth Woodvilles twelve-year-old son, Edward V of England (who was never
crowned) and then by his brother, Richard the Duke of Gloucester. It is not known
what actually caused Edward the fourth's death. Pneumonia and typhoid have both
been conjectured, as well as poison. Some attributed his death to an unhealthy
lifestyle, as he had become stout and inactive in the years before his death
EDWARD V (2 November 1470 1483?) was King of England from his father
Edward the fourths death on 9 April 1483 until 26 June of the same year. However
he was never crowned, and his 86-day reign was dominated by the influence of his
uncle and Lord Protector, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who succeeded him as
Richard the third on 26 June 1483; this was confirmed by the Act entitled Titulus
Regius, which denounced any further claims through his father's heirs. Edward the
fifth and his younger brother Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York were the Princes
in the Tower who disappeared after being sent to heavily guarded royal lodgings in
the Tower of London. Responsibility for their deaths is widely attributed to Richard
the third, but the events have controversial and conflicting contemporary accounts
suggesting there were other suspects.
Edward the fifth was born on 2 November 1470 in Westminster Abbey. His mother,
Elizabeth Woodville, had sought sanctuary there from Lancastrians who had deposed
his father Edward the fourth during the course of the Wars of the Roses. Edward was
created Prince of Wales in June 1471, following Edward the fourths restoration to the
throne In 1473 the Prince of Wales was established at Ludlow Castle on the Welsh
Marches as nominal president of a newly created Council of Wales and the Marches.
Prince Edward was placed under the supervision of the queen's brother Anthony, Earl
Rivers, a noted scholar, and in a letter to Rivers, Edward the fourth set down precise
conditions for the upbringing of his son and the management of his household. The
prince was to "arise every morning at a convenient hour, according to his age". His
day would begin with matins and then Mass, which he was to receive uninterrupted.
After breakfast, the business of educating the prince began with "virtuous learning".
Dinner was served from ten in the morning, and then the prince was to be read "noble
stories of virtue, honour, cunning, wisdom, and of deeds of worship but of nothing
that should move or stir him to vice. Perhaps aware of his own vices, the king was

keen to safeguard his son's morals, and instructed Rivers to ensure that no one in the
prince's household was a habitual "swearer, brawler, backbiter, common hazarder,
adulterer, or user of words of ribaldry. After further study, in the afternoon the prince
was to engage in sporting activities suitable for his class, before evensong. Supper
was served from four, and curtains were to be drawn at eight. Following this, the
prince's attendants were to "enforce themselves to make him merry and joyous
towards his bed". They would then watch over him as he slept.
King Edward's diligence appeared to bear fruit, as Dominic Mancini reported of the
young Edward the fifth.
In word and deed he gave so many proofs of his liberal education, of polite nay rather
scholarly, attainments far beyond his age; his special knowledge of literature ...
enabled him to discourse elegantly, to understand fully, and to declaim most
excellently from any work whether in verse or prose that came into his hands, unless
it were from the more abstruse authors. He had such dignity in his whole person, and
in his face such charm, that however much they might gaze, he never wearied the eyes
of beholders.
As with several of his other children, Edward the fourth planned a prestigious
European marriage for his eldest son, and in 1480 concluded an alliance with the
Duke of Brittany, Francis II, whereby Prince Edward, the Prince of Wales became
betrothed to the duke's four-year-old heir, Anne. The two were to be married upon
their majority, and the devolution of Brittany would have been given to the second
child to be born, the first child to become the next Prince of Wales. These plans all
disappeared together along with Edward the fifth himself.
It was at Ludlow that the 12-year-old Prince of Wales received news, on Monday 14
April 1483, of his father's sudden death five days before Edward the fourths will,
which has not survived, nominated his trusted brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, as
Protector during the minority of his son. Both the new king and his party from the
west, and Richard from the north, set out for London, converging in Stony Stratford,
in Buckinghamshire On the night of 29 April Richard met and dined with Earl Rivers
and Edward's half-brother, Richard Grey, but the following morning Rivers and Grey,
along with the king's chamberlain, Thomas Vaughan, were arrested and sent north.
All three were all subsequently executed. Domenico Mancini, an Italian who visited


England in the 1480s, reports that Edward the Prince of Wales and heir apparent, had
protested, but the remainder of his entourage was dismissed and Richard escorted
Mancini to London. On 19 May 1483, the new king, Edward the fifth took up
residence in the Tower of London, where, on 16 June, he was joined by his younger
brother Richard, Duke of York.

The council had originally hoped for an immediate coronation to avoid the need for a
protectorate. This had previously happened with Richard

the second, who had

become king at the age of ten. Another precedent was Henry the sixth whose
protectorate which started when he inherited the crown aged 9 months had ended with
his coronation aged seven. His uncle Richard, Edward the fourths brother however,
repeatedly postponed the coronation.
On 22 June 1483, Ralph Shaa preached a sermon declaring that Edward the fourth
who was Edward the Fifths father had already been under contract to marry Lady
Eleanor Butler when he married in fact Elizabeth Woodville, thereby rendering his
marriage to Elizabeth Woodville invalid and their children together illegitimate. The
children of, Edward the fourths older brother, Richard the Duke of Gloucester who
was Lord Protector, were barred from the throne by their father and therefore, on 25
June 1483an assembly of Lords and Commons declared Richard the Duke of
Gloucester to be the legitimate king this was later confirmed by the act of parliament.
The following day Richard, Edward the fourths brother acceded to the throne as King
Richard the third.
After Richard the thirds accession, the two princes were gradually seen less and less
within the Tower, and by the end of the summer of 1483 they had disappeared from
public view altogether. Dominic Mancini recorded that after Richard the third had
seized the throne; The Princes Edward and Richard were taken into the inner
apartments of the Tower and then were seen less and less until they disappeared
altogether. During this period Mancini records Prince Edward was regularly visited by
a doctor, who reported that Edward, like a victim prepared for sacrifice, sought
remission of his sins by daily confession and penance, because he believed that death
was facing him. Prince Edward and his brother Prince Richard's fate after their

disappearance remain unknown, but many believe that they were murdered. There is
however no proof that the Princes were killed by anyone.

Bones belonging to two children were discovered in 1674 by workmen rebuilding a

stairway in the Tower. On the orders of King Charles the second, these were
subsequently placed in Westminster Abbey, in an urn bearing the names of Prince
Edward and Prince Richard. The bones were re-examined in 1933 at which time it
was discovered the skeletons were incomplete and had been mixed with animal bones.
It has never been proven that the bones belonged to the princes.
In 1789, workmen carrying out repairs in St George's Chapel, Windsor, rediscovered
and accidentally broke into the vault of Edward the fourth and Elizabeth Woodville.
Adjoining this was another vault, which was found to contain the coffins of two
children. This tomb was inscribed with the names of two of Edward the fourths
children: George, 1st Duke of Bedford, who had died at the age of 2; and Mary of
York who had died at the age of 14. Both had predeceased the King. However, the
remains of these two named children were later found elsewhere in the chapel, leaving
the occupants of the children's coffins within this tomb unknown..
With the disappearance of Prince Edward, the Prince of Wales and heir apparent to
the throne together with his younger brother Prince Richard. The crown of England
passed to the brother of Edward the fourth, Richard Duke of Gloucester who was also
the designated Lord Protector and uncle of the two princes.
Gloucester became Richard the third on 26 June 1483


Richard, Duke of

RICHARD 111 (2 October 1452 22 August 1485) was King of England for two
years, from 1483 until his death in 1485 in the Battle of Bosworth Field. He was the
last king of the House of York and the last of the Plantagenet dynasty. His defeat at
Bosworth Field, the last decisive battle of the Wars of the Roses, symbolises the end
of the Middle Ages in England.
When his brother Edward the fourth died in April 1483, Richard was named Lord
Protector of the Realm for Edward's son and successor, the 12-year-old King Edward
the fifth. As the young king travelled to London from Ludlow, Richard met and
escorted him to lodgings in the Tower of London where Edward the fifths brother
Richard joined him shortly afterwards. Arrangements were made for Edward's
coronation on 22 June 1483, but before the young king could be crowned, his father's
marriage to his mother Elizabeth Woodville was declared invalid, making their
children illegitimate and ineligible for the throne. On 25 June, an assembly of lords
and commoners endorsed the claims. The following day, Edward and Richards uncle
Richard the third began his reign, and he was crowned on 6 July 1483. The young
princes Edward and Richard were not seen in public after August, and a number of
accusations circulated that the boys had been murdered on Richard the thirds orders,
giving rise to the legend of the Princes in the Tower.
There were two major rebellions against Richard the Third. The first was in October
1483, and was led by staunch allies of Edward the fourth and also by Richard the
thirds former ally, Henry Stafford, the second Duke of Buckingham, his first cousin
once removed. The revolt collapsed and Stafford was executed at Salisbury near the
Bull's Head Inn. In August 1485, another rebellion against Richard the third was led
by Henry Tudor and his uncle, Jasper Tudor. Henry Tudor landed in his birthplace,
Pembrokeshire, with a small contingent of French troops, and marched through Wales
recruiting foot soldiers and skilled archers. Richard the third died during the ensuing
Battle of Bosworth Field, making him the last English king to die in battle and the last


and only one to have been killed on home soil since Harold the second was killed at
the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

Richard the thirds remains received burial without pomp, but the original tomb is
believed to have been destroyed during the Reformation, and the remains were lost for
more than five centuries. In 2012, an archaeological excavation was conducted on a
city council car park using ground-penetrating radar on the site once occupied by
Greyfriars, Leicester. The University of Leicester confirmed on 4 February 2013 that
a skeleton found in the excavation was, beyond reasonable doubt, that of Richard the
third This conclusion was based on a combination of evidence from radiocarbon
dating, comparison with contemporary reports of his appearance, and a comparison of
his DNA with that of two descendants of Richard the thirds eldest sister, Anne of
Richard the third and his wife Anne had one son, born in 1473, Edward of
Middleham, who died in April 1484 not long after being created Prince of Wales.
Richard also had two acknowledged illegitimate children: John of Gloucester, also
known as "John of Pontefract", and a daughter Katherine who married William
Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, in 1484.
It has been suggested that Katherine's mother may have been Katherine Haute, on the
basis of the grant of Richard the third making an annual payment of 100 shillings to
her in 1477. The Haute family was related to the Woodvilles through the marriage of
Elizabeth Woodville's aunt, Joan Woodville to Sir William Haute. One of their
children was Richard Haute, Controller of the Prince's Household. Their daughter,
Alice, married Sir John Fogge and they were ancestors of queen consort Catherine
Parr, the sixth wife of King Henry VIII. It is also suggested that John's mother may
have been Alice Burgh. Richard who visited Pontefract in April of 1471 and October
1473, and again in early March 1474 for a week and on 1 March 1474, Richard the
third granted Alice Burgh 20 a year for life "for certain special causes and
considerations". She later received another allowance, apparently for being engaged
as nurse for Clarence's son, Edward of Warwick. Richard continued her annuity when
he became king.

Both of Richard's illegitimate children survived him, but they seem to have died
without issue. John may have been executed in 1499, though no real record of this
exists, Katherine apparently died before her cousin Elizabeth of York's coronation on
25 November 1487. The mysterious Richard Plantagenet is also a possible illegitimate
child of Richard the third and is sometimes referred to as "Richard the MasterBuilder". He died in 1550.
At the time of his last stand against the Lancastrians, Richard the third was therefore a
widower without a legitimate son. After his legitimate son's death in 1484, he had
initially named his nephew Edward, Earl of Warwick, Clarence's young son and the
nephew of Queen Anne, as his heir. After Anne's death, however, Richard named
another nephew, John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, the son of his older sister Elizabeth.
However, he was also negotiating with John II of Portugal to marry his sister, Joanna,
a pious young woman who had already turned down several suitors because of her
preference for the religious life.
In the event however, Richard the third was succeeded by Henry Tudor after Richard
was killed and defeated by Henry at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485.



The name WARS OF THE ROSES refers to the Heraldic badges associated with the
two royal houses, the White Rose of York and the Red Rose of Lancaster. The
Yorkist faction used the symbol of the white rose from early in the conflict, but the
Lancastrian red rose was apparently introduced only after the victory of Henry Tudor
at the Battle of Bosworth. The Lancastrian red rose was then combined with the
Yorkist white rose to form the Tudor rose, which symbolised the union of the two
Though the names of the rival royal houses derive from the cities of York and
Lancaster, the corresponding duchies had little to do with these cities. The lands and
offices attached to the Duchy of Lancaster were mainly in Gloucestershire, North
Wales and Cheshire, while the estates and castles that were part of the Duchy of York
were spread throughout England, though many were in the Wales.
The Lancastrian claim to the throne descended from John of Gaunt, the first Duke of
Lancaster, who was the fourth surviving son of Edward the third. The son of John of
Gaunt was Henry of Bolingbroke, and who eventually became Henry the fourth and
established the House of Lancaster on the throne of England. Henry the fourths son
Henry the fifth maintained the family's hold on the crown, but when Henry the fifth
died in 1422, his heir was the infant Henry the sixth.
The succession of Henry the fourth and his son Henry the Fifth and his son Henry the
Sixth was later challenged by a descendant of a younger brother of John of Gaunt who
was now Richard, Duke of York. By marriage, Richard Duke of York could also
claim descent from Gaunts older brother Edward the thirds third son, Lionel of
Although armed clashes had occurred previously between supporters of York and
Lancaster, the first open fighting broke out in 1455 at the First Battle of St Albans.
Several prominent Lancastrians died, but their heirs continued a deadly feud with
Richard the Duke of York. Although peace was temporarily restored, the Lancastrians

were inspired by Margaret of Anjou to contest York's influence. Fighting resumed

more violently in 1459. The Duke of York and his supporters were forced to flee the
country, but one of his most prominent supporters, the Earl of Warwick, invaded
England from Calais and captured Henry the sixth at the Battle of Northampton.
Richard the Duke of York eventually returned to England, and was appointed
Protector of England during the reign of the infant king, Henry the sixth, but he was
dissuaded from claiming the throne. Margaret and the irreconcilable Lancastrian
nobles gathered their forces in the north of England, and when the Duke of York
moved north to suppress them, he and his second son Edmund were killed at the
Battle of Wakefield in December 1460.
The Lancastrian army advanced south and released Henry the sixth at the Second
Battle of St Albans, but they failed to occupy London, and subsequently retreated
once again to the north. The Yorkists still controlled London and the Duke of York's
eldest son, Edward, the Earl of March, was proclaimed King Edward the fourth. He
was the first King from the House of York. He eventually gathered the Yorkist armies
and won a crushing victory over the Lancastrians at the Battle of Towton in March
After Lancastrian revolts in the north were suppressed in 1464 and Henry was
captured once again, Edward the fourth fell out with his chief supporter and advisor,
the Earl of Warwick who was known as the "Kingmaker, and he also alienated many
friends and even family members by favouring the family of his wife and queen,
Elizabeth Woodville, whom he had married in secret, and against the wishes of the
Earl of Warwick. The Earl of Warwick tried first to supplant Edward the fourth with
his younger brother George, Duke of Clarence, and then he tried to restore Henry the
sixth to the throne. This resulted in two years of rapid changes of fortune, before
Edward the fourth once again won victories at Barnet in April 1471, where Warwick
was killed, and at Tewkesbury in May 1471 where the Lancastrian heir, Edward,
Prince of Wales, the son of Henry the sixth was executed. After the battle, Henry the
sixth was also murdered in the Tower of London several days later, thus ending the
direct Lancastrian line of succession.
A period of comparative peace followed, but Edward the fourth died unexpectedly in
1483. His surviving brother, Richard of Gloucester, moved to prevent the unpopular


Woodville family of Edward's widow from participating in the government during the
minority of Edward's son who had became Edward the fifth. He then seized the
throne for himself, becoming Richard the third, using the suspect legitimacy of
Edward the fourths marriage as pretext.
Henry Tudor, a distant relative of the Lancastrian kings who had inherited the
Lancastrian claim to the throne, defeated Richard the third at Bosworth in 1485. He
was crowned Henry the seventh and to unite the two houses of Lancaster and York he
married Elizabeth of York, the daughter of Edward the fourth.
Yorkist revolts, directed by John de la Pole, the first Earl of Lincoln and others, flared
up in 1487 under the banner of the pretender Lambert Simnel, who claimed to be
Edward, Earl of Warwick (son of George of Clarence), resulting in the last pitched
battles. Although most of the surviving descendants of Richard of York were
imprisoned, sporadic rebellions continued until 1497 when Perkin Warbeck, who
claimed to be a younger brother of Edward the fifth, one of the two disappeared
Princes in the Tower, was imprisoned and later executed.



HENRY V11 (28 January 1457 21 April 1509) was King of England and Lord of
Ireland from his seizing the crown from Richard the third after the Battle of Bosworth
on 22 August 1485 until his death on 21 April 1509, as the first monarch of the House
of Tudor.
Henry won the throne when his forces defeated Richard the third at the Battle of
Bosworth Field. Henry was the last king of England to win his throne on the field of
battle. Henry had cemented his claim to the English throne by marrying Elizabeth of
York, the daughter of Edward the fourth and niece of Richard the third. Henry was
successful in restoring the power and stability of the English monarchy after the
political upheavals of the civil wars known as the Wars of the Roses. Although Henry
the seventh can be credited with the restoration of political stability in England, and a
number of commendable administrative, economic and diplomatic initiatives, the
latter part of his reign was characterised by a financial crisis which stretched the
bounds of legality. The capriciousness and lack of due process which indebted many
in England were soon ended upon Henry the sevenths death after a commission
revealed widespread abuses. According to the contemporary historian Polydore
Vergil, simple "greed" in large part underscored the means by which royal control
was over-asserted in Henry's final years.
Henry's paternal grandfather, Owen Tudor, originally from the Tudors of Penmynydd,
Isle of Anglesey in Wales, and had been a page in the court of Henry V. He rose to
become one of the "Squires to the Body to the King" after military service at
Agincourt Owen Tudor is said to have secretly married the widow of Henry V,
Catherine of Valois. One of their sons was Edmund Tudor, the father of Henry the
seventh. Edmund was created Earl of Richmond in 1452, and formally declared
legitimate by Parliament. Henry the seventh was born at Pembroke Castle on 28


January 1457 to the 13-year-old Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond. In 1456,

Henry's Tudors father Edmund Tudor was captured while fighting for Henry the
sixth in South Wales against the Yorkists.

Edmund Tudor died in Carmarthen Castle, three months before Henry was born.
Henry's uncle Jasper Tudor, the Earl of Pembroke and Edmund's younger brother,
undertook to protect the young widow, who was 13 years old when she gave birth to
Henry Tudor. When Edward the fourth became King in 1461, Jasper Tudor went into
exile abroad. Pembroke Castle, and later the Earldom of Pembroke, were granted to
the Yorkist William Herbert, who also assumed the guardianship of Margaret
Beaufort and the young Henry. Tudor.
Henry lived in the Herbert household until 1469, when Richard Neville, Earl of
Warwick (the Kingmaker), went over to the Lancastrians. William Herbert who was
Henry Tudors guardian, was captured fighting for the Yorkists and was executed by
the Earl of Warwick. When the Earl of Warwick restored Henry the sixth in 1470,
Jasper Tudor returned from exile and brought Henry Tudor to court. When the Yorkist
Edward the fourth regained the throne in 1471, Henry Tudor fled with other
Lancastrians to Brittany, where he spent most of the next 14 years
Apart from the defeat and death in battle of Richard the third. Henry's main claim to
the English throne derived from his mother through the House of Beaufort. Henry's
mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, was a great-granddaughter of John of Gaunt the
Duke of Lancaster and his third wife Katherine Swynford. John of Gaunt was the
fourth son of Edward the third. Katherine Swynford was John of Gaunt's mistress for
about 25 years and when John of Gaunt and Katherine eventually married in 1396,
they already had four illegitimate children, including Henry's great-grandfather John
Beaufort. Thus Henry's claim was somewhat tenuous, it was from the female line, and
it was by an illegitimate descent. In actual fact, the Portuguese and Spanish royal
families had a better claim to the English throne as far as "legitimacy is concerned as
they were legitimate descendants of Catherine of Lancaster, the daughter of John of
Gaunt and his second wife Constance of Castile.


In 1397, and by Letters Patent, John of Gaunts nephew Richard the second had
legitimised John of Gaunts four illegitimate children by Katherine Swynford. And in
1407, Henry the fourth who was John of Gaunt's legitimate son by his first wife,
issued a new Letters Patent to confirm the legitimacy of his half-siblings, but at the
same time he also declared them ineligible for the throne. Henry the fourths action
was of doubtful legality, as the Beauforts were previously legitimised by an Act of
Parliament, but the uncertainty weakened Henry Tudors claim to the throne
Nonetheless, by 1483 Henry Tudor was the senior male Lancastrian claimant
remaining, after the deaths in battle or by murder or execution of Henry the sixth, his
son Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales, and the other Beaufort line of descent
through Lady Margaret's uncle, the second Duke of Beaufort..
Henry Tudor also made some political capital out of his Welsh ancestry. For example
in attracting military support and safeguarding his army's passage through Wales on
its way to the Battle of Bosworth.

He associated himself to an old-established

Anglesey family which claimed descent from Cadwaladr (in legend, the last ancient
British king) and on occasions, Henry Tudor displayed the red dragon of Cadwaladr.
He took it, as well as the standard of St George, on his procession through London
after victory at Bosworth. In reality, however, his hereditary connections to Welsh
aristocracy were not strong. He was descended by the paternal line, through several
generations, from Ednyfed Fychan, the steward of Gwynedd and through the
stewards wife from Rhys ap Tewdwr, the King of Deheubarth in South Wales.
Notwithstanding this lineage, to the bards of Wales, Henry was a candidate for Y Mab
Darogan , The Son of Prophecy" who would free the Welsh from oppression.
By 1483, Henry Tudors mother, despite being married to a Yorkist (Lord Stanley),
was actively promoting Henry as an alternative to Richard the third.
At Rennes Cathedral on Christmas Day 1483, two years before the Battle of
Bosworth, Henry Tudor who was of Lancastrian descent pledged to marry Edward the
fourths eldest daughter, Elizabeth of York, who was also Edward's heir since the


presumed death of her brothers, the Princes in the Tower (King Edward V and his
brother Richard). Following the marriage Henry Tudor then received the homage of
her Yorkist supporters.
With money and supplies borrowed from his host Francis II, Duke of Brittany, Henry
Tudor tried to land in England, but his conspiracy became unraveled and resulted in
the execution of his primary co-conspirator, the Duke of Buckingham.


supported by Francis II's prime-minister Pierre Landais, Richard the third attempted
to extradite Henry from Brittany, but Henry Tudor escaped to France. He was
welcomed by the French, who readily supplied him with troops and equipment for a
second invasion.
Having now gained the support of the Woodvilles, the in-laws of the late Edward the
fourth, Henry Tudor sailed with a small French and Scottish force. He landed in Mill
Bay, Pembrokeshire, close to his birthplace. He marched towards England
accompanied by his uncle Jasper and the Earl of Oxford. Wales was traditionally a
Lancastrian stronghold, and Henry owed the support he gathered to his Welsh birth
and ancestry, being directly descended, through his father, from Rhys ap Gruffydd.
He amassed an army of around 5,000 soldiers.
Henry Tudor was aware that his best chance to seize the throne was to engage Richard
the third quickly and defeat him immediately. Richard had reinforcements in
Nottingham and Leicester. So Richard the third only needed to avoid being killed in
order to keep his throne. Although outnumbered, Henry Tudors Lancastrian forces
decisively defeated Richard the thirds Yorkist army at the Battle of Bosworth Field
on 22 August 1485. Several of Richard's key allies, such as the Earl of
Northumberland and William and Thomas Stanley, crucially switched sides or left the
battlefield. Richard the thirds death at Bosworth Field effectively ended the Wars of
the Roses, although it was not the last battle that Henry Tudor had to fight.
When Henry the seventh took the crown of England he was the first King of the
Tudor dynasty and, after a reign of nearly 24 years, he was peacefully succeeded by
his son Henry who was born to his wife Elizabeth of York. Henry the son became
Henry the eighth in 1509.


CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS (Italian: Cristoforo Colombo; Spanish: Cristbal
Coln; Portuguese: Cristvo Colombo; (born between October 31, 1450 and October
30, 1451 20 May 1506) was an Italian explorer, navigator, and colonizer. He was
certainly not English, nor was he of English descent, but because of his important
Carribean and other discoveries he is included in this document to explain why Spain
was such a dominant country in the Sout Americas
Cristopher Columbus was born in the Republic of Genoa in Italy. With the blessing
and support of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the
Atlantic Ocean that led to a general European awareness of the American continents.
Those voyages, and his efforts to establish permanent settlements on the island of
Hispaniola, initiated the Spanish colonization of the New World. In the context of
emerging western imperialism and economic competition between those European
kingdoms who were seeking wealth through the establishment of trade routes and
colonies, Columbuss speculative proposal, to reach the East Indies by sailing
westward, eventually received the support of the Spanish crown. The Spanish king
saw in it a chance to gain the upper hand over his rival powers for the lucrative spice
trade with Asia.
During Columbuss first voyage in 1492, instead of reaching Japan as he had
intended, Columbus landed in the Bahamas archipelago at a locale he named San
Salvador. Over the course of three more voyages, Columbus visited the Greater and
Lesser Antilles, as well as the Caribbean coast of Venezuela and Central America.
Columbus claimed them all for the Spanish Crown.
Columbus was not the first European explorer to reach the Americas. Columbuss
1492 voyage had been preceded by a Norse expedition led by Leif Ericson in the 11th
century. Columbuss voyages however led to the first lasting European contact with
the Americas, and which heralded the start of a period of European exploration,
conquest, and colonization that lasted for several centuries. The Columbus voyages


had, therefore, an enormous impact in the historical development of the modern

Western world. Columbus himself saw his accomplishments primarily as a means to
spread Catholicism.

Columbus never admitted that he had reached a continent previously unknown to

Europeans, rather than the East Indies which he had set out for. Columbus called the
inhabitants of the lands he visited indios which is Spanish for "Indians". In 1500,
Columbuss strained relationship with the Spanish crown and the colonial
administrators Spain had appointed in America eventually led to his arrest and
dismissal as governor of the settlements on the island of Hispaniola. Columbus then
entered into a period of protracted litigation with the Spanish Crown over the benefits
which he and his heirs claimed were owed to them by the Spanish Crown.
Columbus had always given the conversion of non-believers as the prime reason for
his explorations, and he grew increasingly more religious in his later years. This was
probably due to the influence of his son Diego and his sons friend the Carthusian
monk Gaspar Gorricio. Columbus produced two books during his later years: a Book
of Privileges in 1502, detailing and documenting the rewards from the Spanish Crown
to which he believed he and his heirs were entitled, and a Book of Prophecies in 1505,
in which passages from the Bible were used to place his achievements as an explorer
in the context of Christian doctrine. In his later years, Columbus demanded that the
Spanish Crown give him 10% of all the profits made in the new lands.


because he had been relieved of his duties as governor, the Spanish Crown completely
rejected his demands, and after his death, his heirs sued the Crown for a part of the
profits from trade with America, as well as other rewards. This law suit led to a
protracted series of legal disputes known as the Columbian lawsuits.
During a violent storm on his last voyage, Columbus, then approximately 41, suffered
an attack of what was believed at the time to be gout. In subsequent years, he was
plagued with what was thought to be influenza and other fevers, bleeding from the
eyes, and prolonged attacks of gout. The suspected attacks increased in duration and
severity, sometimes leaving Columbus bedridden for months at a time, and eventually
culminated in his death fourteen years later in 1506.


Based on Columbuss lifestyle and the described symptoms, modern doctors suspect
that he suffered from Reiter's Syndrome, rather than gout. Reiter's Syndrome is a
common presentation of reactive arthritis. A joint inflammation caused by intestinal
bacterial infections or after acquiring certain sexually transmitted diseases primarily
Chlamydia or gonorrhea. It seems likely that Columbus acquired reactive arthritis
from food poisoning on one of his ocean voyages because of poor sanitation and
improper food preparation. On 20 May 1506, aged probably 54, Christopher
Columbus died in Valladolid, Spain.
His remains were first interred at Valladolid, and then they were removed to the
monastery of La Cartuja in Seville in Southern Spain. In 1542, at the request of his
son Diego the remains were transferred to the cathedral at Santo Domingo, in the
present-day Dominican Republic. In 1795, when France took over the entire island of
Hispaniola, Columbuss remains were moved to Havana, in Cuba. After Cuba became
independent following the Spanish-American War in 1898, the remains were moved
back to Spain, to the Cathedral of Seville, where they were placed on an elaborate
catafalque. However, a lead box bearing an inscription identifying "Don Christopher
Columbus" and containing bone fragments and a bullet was discovered at Santo
Domingo in 1877.
To lay to rest claims that the wrong relics had been moved to Havana and that
Columbus' remains had been left buried in the cathedral at Santo Domingo, DNA
samples of the corpse resting in Seville were taken in June 2003 as well as other DNA
samples from the remains of his brother Diego and younger son Fernando Coln.
Initial observations suggested that the bones did not appear to belong to somebody
with the physique or age at death associated with Columbus. DNA extraction proved
difficult, and only short fragments of DNA could be isolated. The DNA fragments
however, matched corresponding DNA from Columbus's brother, giving support that
both individuals had shared the same mother. Such evidence, together with historic
analyses led the researchers to conclude that the remains in Seville did belong to
Christopher Columbus. The authorities in Santo Domingo have never allowed the

remains there to be exhumed, so it is unknown if any of those remains could be from

Columbus' body as well. The location of the Dominican remains is in The Columbus
Lighthouse in Santo Domingo.
Historians have traditionally argued that Columbus remained convinced to the very
end that his journeys had been along the east coast of Asia, but it is argued that a
document in the Book of Privileges indicates Columbus knew he had found a new
continent. On the other hand, his other writings continued to claim that he had reached
Asia, such as in a 1502 letter to Pope Alexander VI where he asserted that the landfall
of Cuba was in fact the east coast of Asia. Thus, it remains unclear what his true
beliefs were.