A Brief History of England - The Monarchy Pt1

Below is a timeline of the monarchy from the point of the French invasion.
Along with critical dates are cultural references as an aid to memory, with actors who have played the roles.


Monarch and events Popular Culture References and illustrations

1066 - St. Edward the Confessor was followed by 'King Harold' Godwinson (and after token Edgar the Atheling). The Norman Conquest saw William the Conqueror invade and defeated Harold at the Battle of Hastings. England was under French rule and Norman replaced English as the language of the ruling classes. Due to continued resistance mainly in the north, as many as one fifth of the people of England were killed during these years by war, massacre, and starvation. William commissioned the Domesday Book to survey England for taxation.

The events of this year are recorded in the famous Bayeux Tapestry including Harold being killed by an arrow in the eye.
1087 - William II, Rufus, son of William the Conqueror.  
1100 - Henry I, Beauclerc, also known as the Lion of Justice.

The first Norman King born in England. He battled his brother Robert for control of England and Normandy. He granted the Charter of Liberties to the barons which laid the foundation for future challenges to the King's power.

Henry reformed the treasury, creating the Exchequer. He reduced corruption of officials which pleased the population. He blurred the distinction between Anglo-Saxons and Normans. He made peace with the church.
1135 - Stephen was a weak ruler and although was supported initially by the Barons this gave way to war with claimant to the throne Matilda. His reign was frought with troubles including the Barons and attempted invasions. Stephen was even defeated at one point and imprisoned but rival Matilda was forced out from taking the throne. He eventually compromised and allowed her son to take the throne on his death...  
1154 - Plantagenets - Henry II - One of England's greatest medieval kings.

Henry's marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine suddenly made him a greater territorial power than the King of France at a time when England was a satellite of France.

The barons were put in their place by Henry tearing down their unauthorised castles. He streamlining taxation and gave local magistrates power. He made trial by jury the norm. Legal improvements weakened the church leading Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury to become erksome and was removed after seeking help from the Pope... "Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?"
Henry II was the focus of at least one TV series starring Patrick Stewart as the King. The Devil's Crown was on BBC2.

The famous line about the priest should not be confused with its use by the King in The Black Adder!
1189 - Richard I, the Lionheart fought to surpress barons. He attempted to steal the throne and Henry conceded. He massacred English jews and raised a Crusader army with high taxes and selling offices. He spent only six months of his reign in England. Richard the Lionheart was played twice by Julian Glover including in the 1965 Doctor Who The Crusades.
1199 - John, Lackland His acsession was challenged by nephew Aruthur of Brittany and conflict upset French barons who drew support from French King Phillip II resulting in loss of John's land. In response John strengthened the navy. He caused conflict between church and crown. His settlement with France upset his own Barons who made him sign the Magna Carta reducing King's power. Failure to adhere led to Baron wars.

The Earliest Britons  | The Romans and Hadrian's Wall  |  The French Rule of Britain