THE CONQUEROR & HIS SUCCESSORS
WILLIAM of Normandy, called "THE CONQUEROR" and "THE GREAT" and "ANOTHER CAESAR", one of the great men of history, obtained to the English Throne in 1066 following the death of Edward "The Confessor" after defeating and slaying King Harold II in the Battle of Hasting, and deposing the boy-king Edgar II "Aetheling," the last Old English king, which began the Late Middle Ages in England. William was the first English monarch of the House of Normandy. He was the greatest general of his time, and never lost a battle.
The House of Normandy was founded about 150 years earlier by William's ancestor, the viking-leader Rollo or Hrolf "The Walker" [Hrolf "Ganger," or Gongu-Hrolf], who was so large that no horse could carry him, who, and his gang of viking-pirates, called "North-Men" or "Normans," operating out of their pirate fort at Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands, made raids in Britain, Ireland, and France. The Vikings were permitted by the King of France to settle in the French province of Neustrie [which then became Normandy], which was given to Rollo [Hrolf "Ganger"] as a fief of the French Crown, who, thereupon, became the first Duke of Normandy (911). Normandy from its beginnings was a vigorous military state, and Rollo and his descendants made it into the most formidable state in Europe. The Viking colony of Normans in France were the most aggressive and expansionist race in Europe at that time. The Normans, however, eventually adopted the French culture and language and thus over the course of time were absorbed by the native French population. The ancestors of Rollo were Viking sea-kings descended from the famous viking-leader Ogier "The Dane" [Holger "Danske"], who was a scion of the Scyldings of Denmark. Ogier "The Dane" was onetime briefly recognized as "King of England" (796), thus, the accession of William represented the restoration of the Viking Dynasty which had earlier conquered England and had established itself on the British Throne, succeeding the Anglo-Saxon Bretwaldas but had since been dispossessed by the restoration of the heirs of the old Anglo-Saxon bretwaldas as the Kings of England or the Old English Royal House, which dynasty William overthrew. The struggle between the Vikings and the Anglo-Saxons was fought over 300 years before finally coming to an end with the victory of William "The Great" at the battle of Hastings.
Sometimes called "The Bastard," William was the illegitimate son of Duke Robert "Diablo" or "The Devil," of Normandy, of his mistress Herleve [daughter of Fulbert of Falaise], the wife of Herluin of Conteville, by whom she was the mother of two other sons, Eudes (Odo) and Robert, and of a daughter, Muriel. In those days bastards were still eligible for the succession in the absence of a legitimate heir, for the Church had not yet stepped in to disqualify illegitimate off-spring. There is a story that Duke Robert fell in love with Herleve, a young girl, whom he one day saw washing clothes in a stream as he looked out from his castle. He wooed her, and she became his mistress and in due course William was born. Alice was probably Robert's daughter also by Herleve. William was reared by his step-mother Margaret [formerly Estrid], the half-sister of King Canute "The Great" of England, who, by Robert, was the mother of a daughter, Felica, William's half-sister. Margaret already had three sons begotten of her late husband Ulph, a Swedish prince, who were: Sve[g]n [the future King Sven II of Denmark], Osborn [the Seneschal of Normandy], and Bjorn. Margaret died shortly after her divorce from Duke Robert following seven years of marriage, and Robert died himself soon afterwards leaving William an orphan at age seven or eight. On the death of Duke Robert "Diablo" of Normandy, his comrades Alan of Bretagne, Gilbert of Brionne, and Osborn, the Seneschal of Normandy, took custody of the little eight year-old boy-duke William from the protection of the King of France at the French court at Paris. They became the guardians of the boy-duke, William, but all three were murdered and a twelve-year period of anarchy followed during which William found himself in a chaotic situation. The boy-duke changed hands several times to protect him from would-be assassins, and in a turn of events came into the care of the English prince Edward ["The Confessor"], who was himself an exile in Normandy at that time. Edward, whose mother was William's great-aunt, secretly fostered William during his exile in Normandy, and took William to England with him upon returning home from exile at the invitation of the new English king, his half-brother, King Hardeknut. It was William's second visit; for his first visit to England had been about ten years earlier as a young child with his father Duke Robert and his step-mother Margaret (Estrid) to see the boy's step-uncle, King Canute "The Great," who liked the boy and William became King Canute's favorite, and was once overheard to have said that "one day the boy would have it all"; a remark that proved to be prophetic. Edward succeeded his half-brother Hardeknut as King of England the same year that William came of age, 1042, and in the absence of his own issue King Edward adopted his foster-son the teenage William as his heir; and later in 1057 compelled the English nobles to swear an oath to support him. That year, 1042, William returned from England to Normandy with English soldiers to claim his inheritance, and after five years of fighting William finally overcame the rebel Norman nobles and took possession of Normandy in 1047 as its duke, William II.
Though the English nobles had years earlier sworn an oath to Duke William of Normandy acknowledging him as the heir of King Edward "The Confessor," however, upon King Edward's death in 1066 the English nobles ignored their oaths and elevated Earl Harold of Wessex to the English throne as King Harold II even though he was not in the line of succession. Duke William contested the election of King Harold by the English nobles and sent a letter to Pope Alexander II in Rome asking for his judgment concerning the matter; and the pope sent William a letter authorizing him to establish his claim, and also sent along a banner under which to fight for his rights, which William understood to have been a promise from God of victory.
Duke William, with the pope's blessing, gathered an army from every quarter of France and collected an armada of ships and set sail across the English Channel with his own ship in the lead under the banner of Christ [given to him by the pope] waving at the masthead [and later carried into battle by the army] and landed unopposed in England in early autumn. Three weeks later the English Army arrived and William "The Norman" engaged and defeated the English Army and slew the English King Harold II in the Battle of Hastings. William, after resting his army for five days at Hastings, set out for London. His progress was slow and cautious, and a bout of dysentery that ran through the army held up the march for a month. Meantime, the "witanagemot" meeting in London elevated the "rightful heir," Prince Edgar "Aetheling" to the throne as King Edgar II of England. After a short siege, London surrendered to William, who deposed the boy-king Edgar II, who was obliged to abdicate in William's favor; and Duke William took possession of the English kingdom. The Norman Conquest is commemorated on the 240-foot-long "Bayeux Tapestry" embroidered by William's queen Matilda and her ladies-in-waiting. It tells the life-story of William in pictures and highlights his victory at Hastings. [note: the "Bayeux Tapestry" is technically an embroidery not a tapestry since all tapestries are woven.]
On Christmas Day [25 December] Year 1066 William "The Conqueror" [age 39] was crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey in London in a ceremony officiated by [E]Aldred, the Arch-Bishop of York, since Stigand, the Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, refused to take part. The coronation placed William in the succession of the old English kings, but it was followed by measures which showed that England was a conquered country. William desired to reign not as a conqueror but as the "rightful" king, however, the rebellion of the English under the heirs of the old royal house transformed William from a king into a conqueror. Nationwide rebellion forced William to hold by the sword what he had won by the sword. It wholly changed his position from his "adoptive right" to the "right of conquest." It took several years and a campaign of terror to subdue the whole country. England was harried by William with such deliberate savagery that it took over a century for the country to recover economically from the Norman Conquest. The Normans during that period had to live like an army of occupation and built motte-and-bailey forts all over the country; and among them William built the Tower of London as his residence on the site of an old Roman fort originally built by Julius Caesar, "Caesar's Citadel"; and, built Windsor Castle in the English countryside outside London. Throughout his reign, William was putting down sporadic outbursts of rebellion by the English people.
Nearly all the English nobles were compelled to surrender their rank and estates to the Normans, for since William claimed to have been the rightful king from the time of the death of King Edward "The Confessor" all those nobles who had supported King Harold [whom he regarded as an usurper] were considered traitors and consequently their estates were confiscated and given by William to his "companions," all of whom were foreigners; and French-speaking Normans replaced the English-speaking Anglo-Saxon aristocracy in England. These were the ancestors of the great families of Medieval England, who became the dukes, marquises, and earls of England's great estates. William also replaced English bishops with foreign ones, among whom Stigand, the Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, was replaced with the Italian bishop Lanfranc of Pavia, formerly the Abbot of St. Stephen's at Caen in Normandy.
The English state was re-organized by William in his policy of "Normanization," the likes of which had not been seen in Britain since the Roman Conquest. William abolished the four great Anglo-Saxon earldoms, that is, Wessex in Southern England, and East Anglia, Mercia, and Northumbria in Northern England, which left the shire, or county, as the largest unit of local government which all now became fiefs of the crown, and their rulers, the local lords, [now] called "barons" [= dukes, marquises, and earls], became the vassals of the king. All the king's vassals and their knights were summoned by King William to meet with him on Salisbury Plain around Stonehenge where in a midnight ceremony they all with torch fires burning solemnly swore an oath of fealty to William [and his heirs] as their liege lord to whom they bound themselves [and their descendants] by a contract. It was called the "Salisbury Oath."
A "great council" was summoned to meet by King William as a forum to settle the affairs of the country which was called the "King's Court" ["curia regis"], out of which was to evolve parliament as well as the great departments of government which gradually moved out of the "King's Court" to become institutions of state themselves which left the royal household to cater for the domestic needs of the royal family.
Feudalism, the economic system of land tenure then prevalent on the European continent, was introduced by William and it replaced the original tribal structure of English society. The concept of "territorial sovereignty"[in contrast to "tribal sovereignty"] was here introduced and the king now became the supreme landowner "par excellence." The king owned the whole country, but leased out its lands to his vassals or tenants-in-chief, who in turn sub-let their lands to their knights. Thus, each land-holder owed service, feudal dues, and personal allegiance to his over-lord, and, so on, to the king. As the author of "1066 and All That" aptly put it "everybody had to belong to somebody else and everybody else to the king." The feudal system in its ideal represented an organic hierarchy in which its members varied a balanced obligation with the king who stood at the top of the feudal-pyramid over the nobles who provided the knights for the king's service who were all supported by the labor of the "serfs" [the common people]. The Normans enslaved the Saxons in "serfdom" for several hundred years.
A massive audit of the country's wealth was conducted by William to be used for purposes of taxation in the "Great Survey" which was recorded in the "Domesday ["Doom's-Day] Book," so called for the survey seemed like "Judgment Day" to the subjugated native Saxon population. The like had not been seen before in Britain since the Roman Era, and was unequalled in its comprehensiveness and detail until the nineteenth century.
After conquering England, William invaded Wales (1067) and conquered the eastern half of the country and established the Welsh March (1068), which was a chain of shires [earldoms] along the English-Welsh border. They were: Chester, Shrewsbury, and Hereford. He appointed Hugh "The Wolf" of Avranches, as the Marquis of Chester; Roger Montgomery as the Marquis of Shrewsbury; and William FitzOsbern as the Marquis of Hereford (1067). Hugh "The Wolf" from Chester Castle pressed into Northern Wales. The commander of his forces, Robert of Rhuddland, established himself in Rhuddlan Castle from where he led attacks against Gwynedd. Roger Montgomery established himself in the frontier castle of Montgomery, whence he conducted attacks on the Welsh midlands and conquered Powys. And, William FitzOsbern, from Hereford Castle, crossed into Southern Wales and conquered Gwent and built Chepstow Castle. [The conquest of Wales in 1284 made the Welsh March irrelevant, but it was not abolished until 1536.] Later, William overran the western half of Wales (1071), traversed the country, and received the submission of the regional Welsh kings and took the title "Lord of Wales." William also invaded Scotland (1072) and defeated the Scots and received the submission of the Scottish nobility as well as the Scottish king and took the title "Lord of Scotland."
The Normans were masters of Britain after subjugating the English, Welsh, and Scots. Their influence extended far beyond their Norman homeland in Northern France to not only Britain but to just about all parts of Europe. The Normans under William's second-cousin, Robert "Guiscard," completed the expulsion of the Byzantines from Western Europe (1059), warred with the Holy Roman Empire, took Rome, expelled the Emperor Henry IV and also Pope Clement III and pillaged and looted the city for three days (1084) before the Normans withdrew to their camp in Southern Italy, which became the Norman dukedom of Apulia, from where they attacked Greece, the Near East, and Africa. The principality of Antioch, in Syria, was founded by the Normans. The Normans during William's reign engaged in trade with their colonies in the Mediterranean, those in the North and Baltic Seas, as well as with those in the North Atlantic, that is, Iceland, Greenland, and Vinland (Canada).
In his capacity as Duke William II of Normandy, King WILLIAM I of England was a vassal of the King of France, and, thus, the Kings of England as simultaneously Dukes of Normandy were Peers of France. The successors of the House of Normandy on the English throne, the houses of Blois and Anjou, were also vassals of the French kings, and the English kings of those dynasties in their capacity as French vassals usually evaded the difficulty created by the demands of the French kings for homage for their French fiefs by investing their sons with those possessions and sending them to France to do homage to the King of France, and the problem was eventually resolved upon the inheritance of the French Crown by the English Royal House, after which the Kings of England were simultaneously the Kings of France [or claimed to be] from King Edward IIII to King George III [who dropped the title when France became a republic].
Tall, thick-set, and "strong as an ox," William was shrewd, ruthless, and stern beyond measure. He was not a man to be trifled with, so that no one dared do anything contrary to his will for fear of him. He inspired loyalty among his followers and fear among his enemies.
The wife and queen of King William "The First," "The Conqueror," was Matilda of Flanders, the daughter of a Flemish count. It was Matilda's second marriage. Her first husband had been a Flemish commoner named Gherbod by whom she was the mother of two children, a boy, Gherbod, to whom William gave an English earldom, and a girl Gundred, who was given in marriage to one of William's old cronies William de Warenne. There was some legal difficulty that delayed the marriage of William and Matilda for a number of years after it was first proposed which may have been that Matilda's first husband was still alive or possibly that she at the time was betrothed to Brihtric Meaw, an Anglo-Saxon noble; nevertheless, whatever the problem was it appears that it was not resolved before their marriage for when their marriage finally did take place it was held to have been irregular by church authorities. They had a pre-marital illegitimate daughter, Sylvia. Their marriage produced five sons and six daughters, of whom only three sons and four daughters survived their parents. Matilda was totally devoted to William, despite his three indiscretions that produced two illegitimate sons and one illegitimate daughter. His eldest son, Robert "Curthose," rebelled against him and fought a series of battles against King William in a civil war between father and son.
The last years of King William's life, he was engaged in civil war with his eldest son, Robert "Curthose." Prince Robert, supported by the King of France and the French garrison at Mantes, where Robert "Curthose" had established his headquarters, made a raid into Normandy, to which King William retaliated by attacking the city. And, during the sack of the city his horse stumbled on a hot cinder and flung him. He sustained grave internal injuries from being thrown from his horse, and, after suffering several days, died at the Priory of St. Gervais, near Rouen, Normandy, in 1087 [age 60] in the twenty-first year of his reign. He was buried in Normandy at Caen in the Abbey of St. Stephen, which he had earlier built. His tomb was despoiled during the French Revolution, 1790s, and his bones were scattered and lost, except his thigh bone which was reburied in 1987 under a new tombstone in front of the altar in the Abbaye aux Hommes. A slab marks the site of his original tomb in St. Stephen‘s Abbey. Since his eldest son Robert was in rebellion against him, and his second-son Richard had been killed in a hunting accident six years earlier, William, before his death, gave his third son, William "Rufus," a letter addressed to the Norman barons designating Rufus as his heir over Robert. The death of William "The Conqueror" left a disputed succession, not only among his sons; but the English longed for the restoration of the ex-king, Edgar II "Aetheling". This gave rise to a national trauma of identity, in a country whose population was made-up of three different races, that is, the Norman-French (Vikings), the Anglo-Saxons, and the Celto-Roman Britons (Welsh). The situation was not helped by the general unpopularity of the Norman dynasty in England, whose only supporters were their Norman-French barons. The legacy of William "The Conqueror" was immense. He founded a new dynasty, a new English state, introduced a new economic system, reformed the English Church, and introduced a new culture.
WILLIAM II, called "RUFUS" or "THE RED" for his flaming red hair and ruddy complexion, was accepted as king by the Norman barons of England over his elder brother Robert, and succeeded his father on the English Throne in 1087 (age 30) over the objections of his half-uncle, Eudes (Odo), Earl of Kent, who organized a rebellion to place Robert on the throne, but which was brutally crushed by Rufus thus securing him in the kingdom (1088). Rufus is one of the villainous kings of English History. He was stormy, violent, cruel, savagely harsh, vicious, untrustworthy, deceitful, treacherous, obnoxious, crude, rude, and uncivilized in his behavior. His more endearing characteristics (so to speak) were his cynicism, wittiness, and sarcasm. His rule was despotic and oppressive which of course made him unpopular with the English people. Unlike his father who was always above reproach in his dealings, Rufus exploited his position for his own benefit. The people suffered in poverty and were taxed to the point of starvation while Rufus and his court enjoyed a lavish life-style reveling in all sorts of vice. The extravagance of his court was in marked contrast to the austere conditions of his late father's court. And, the debaucheries of his court shocked the nation. King Rufus was rebuked by Arch-Bishop Anselm of Canterbury for immorality and for the debauchery of his court; and Rufus threw the Primate out of England into exile. It was written in the "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle" that "everything that was hateful to God and to righteous man was the daily practice in this land during his reign." Rufus was irreverent and blasphemous and was particularly fond of anti-religious jokes. He had a foul mouth, and blasphemed with almost every sentence. His hostility to Christianity was clear by his persecution of the Church and its clergy in England during his reign. His prime minister, Ranulf Flambard, carried-out all of Rufus' policies. Rufus reviled and treated the clergy with such contempt that the nation's priests fled the country; thereupon, Rufus helped himself to church revenues. Rufus laughed with scorn at his excommunication by the pope. There were grumblings of dissension throughout the country, and repeated efforts to overthrow Rufus were thwarted by his secret agents. One such rebellion was led by Robert Mowbray, Earl of Northumberland, who attempted to oust Rufus and place Stephen of Albemarle, a relative of the royal house, on the throne, however, as all the other attempts it too was ruthlessly swashed by Rufus.
Meantime, most of Wales was grabbed up by Norman barons who conquered native Welsh regional-kingdoms and in their place founded Norman earldoms. Hugh "The Wolf," Earl of Chester, used Cheshire as a base to attack the Welsh. Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Shrewsbury, penetrated deep into Wales and conquered Merioneth which he renamed after himself. William Fitz Osbern, Earl of Hereford, established outposts at Monmouth and Chepstow and annexed Gwent. The Earl of Clare, a Norman noble, landed at Milford Haven and pushed back the Welsh and founded a Norman colony in Pembrokeshire. Robert, the Castellan of Rhuddlan, conquered Conwy-Denbighshire (Clwyd). Bernard of Neufmarche conquered Brecon [Brycheiniog] and carved-out a state for himself in the central part of Wales. Philip de Braose seized Radnor (1090), and moved on into Buellt and established himself there. Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Shrewsbury, overran Ceredigion and conquered Dyfed [Deheubarth]. He established the lordship of Pembroke, which he handed over to his brother, Arnulf de Montgomery. William Fitz Baldwin conquered Carmarthen. Robert Fitz Hamo[n], Earl of Gloucester, landed in Morgannwg (Glamorgan), overran the Welsh state 1090-1091, deposed its last king, Iestyn II, and divided up the country among his knights. The lordship of Monmouth was given to "Fitz Baderon"; the lordship of Ewyas to Hugh de Lacy; and, the lordship of Abergavenny to "de Ballon." Resistance against the Normans was led by the ex-king Iestyn II of Glamorgan [Morgannwg], who, following a period of guerrilla-warfare, was defeated in battle by the Normans under Robert Fitz Hamo[n] at Mynedd Bychan, near Cardiff, and sought refuge in a priory at Llangenydd in Gower, where he died from his wounds (1093). The Norman barons displaced the native Welsh rulers, and collected the taxes which hitherto had been rendered to them. Old Welsh royals held out in scattered pockets throughout Wales. The lordship of Avon was granted to Caratoc, the son of the late king Iestyn II, the last King of Morgannwg [Glamorgan], and his descendants adopted the family name of "Avene." The senior-line of the descendants of King Iestyn II of Morgannwg took the surname "Lougher" around 1500, and the family still flourishes today!
During his reign, King Rufus suppressed a rebellion in Normandy (1090), twice invaded Scotland to quell uprisings (1091 & 1093), and suppressed a rebellion of the Welsh (1098). He led an army to Cumbria, defeated Dumnail (Domhnuil), its last native king, and annexed Cumbria to England in 1092.
In 1092, in Ireland, during a rebellion of the Irish chieftains, who had been at enmity with one another over the Irish succession since the time of Brian "Boru," when the high-kingship had passed from the O'Neills to the O'Briens and the O'Conors. The tribal chiefs and clan captains of Ireland gathered in an assembly and drew up a document of grievances and sent it to the Pope along with items of the royal Irish regalia, including the ancient crown of the Irish high-kings itself [which was made of gold and embedded with emeralds] authorizing him to appoint a successor. This was to have far-reaching results in the later reign of King Henry II, unforeseen at that time.
In 1093 a serious illness frightened Rufus into repentance, however, as his health improved he became his same old self again. Rufus was accidentally killed or perhaps murdered while out hunting in the New Forest by an arrow shot by one of his companions, Walter Tyrell [husband of Alice de Clare], who fled to the continent and was never heard of again. The probability of murder is great. It was very likely plotted by the family of De Clare in the interests of the king's younger brother, Prince Henry, who was in the same hunting party. Prince Henry left King Rufus's body where it fell and hurried back to court and seized the royal treasury and usurped the throne during the absence of his elder brother, Robert "Curthose"; while King Rufus's body was transported by some peasants on a farm cart to Winchester Cathedral arriving the next morning with blood dripping from it the whole way. Rufus was buried in the cathedral directly below the main tower with little ceremony, the clergy denying him religious rites. William II "Rufus" died in 1100 (age 43) unwed and without legitimate issue in the thirteenth year of his reign. His death was a relief to the English people who had suffered so miserably during his reign.
HENRY I, called "BEAUCLERC", meaning "fine scholar," because he was well-educated and bookish beyond the norm of his time. He could read and write in three languages: French, English, and Latin. He was the only one of The Conqueror's sons to be born in England. This, and the fact that he spoke English gave him an advantage over other contenders in public opinion. Henry seized the throne (age 32) upon the death of his brother William II "Rufus" in 1100 during the absence of his elder brother Robert "Curthose," who had joined Godfred of Bouillon in the First Crusade (1096-1099). Godfred of Bouillon conquered Palestine with troops from all over Europe and founded the medieval crusader-kingdom of Jerusalem. Henry "Beauclerc" was crowned "King of England" three days after his brother's death in London at Westminster Abbey, by Maurice, the Bishop of London. Robert "Curthose" returned the next year a hero from the Holy War and challenged the succession of his younger brother Henry during his absence, and civil war broke out between the two brothers (1101-1106). Prince Robert was defeated by King Henry in battle at Tinchebrai, captured, and imprisoned in Cardiff Castle for life. He spent 30 years in prison, and died, probably starved, and was survived by a son, William "Clito," who was considered by the Normans as the rightful heir.
It was Henry's first act as king to issue a charter promising good government, which was very much welcomed after his late brother's oppressive reign, and it gained Henry the favor of the English people. He imprisoned Ranulf Flambard, his late brother's prime minister; and recalled Anselm from exile to re-take his office as Arch-Bishop of Canterbury and English Primate. Henry appointed gifted and able men to office; such as Roger Salisbury, whom he appointed chancellor, which was what the "prime minister" was called in those days. He organized a department at court for the collection of royal revenue, and founded the court of the "Exchequer" to administer finances. The exchequer sat at a table with counters and a checkered table-cloth was used to facilitate counting, carefully checking with the sheriffs the taxes, rents, fines, and debts due to the crown. Every penny had to be accounted for. The office of "exchequer" was deputized by King Henry to oversee the sheriffs [royal agents] of the country's shires. King Henry began the practice of keeping the records of the accounts of the sheriffs and other royal officials in each shire rolled up in metal pipes, hence, they were called "Pipe Rolls." The "Pipe Rolls" are the longest series of English public records dating from 1100 to 1834.
King Henry institutes administrative reforms in government for which he was called the "Lion of Justice." He greatly extended the scope of the "King's Court" ["Curia Regis"] which paved the way for its evolution into parliament. He reformed the judiciary, overhauled the tax-collection system, and established a civil bureaucracy. The administration of the country was centralized in the royal court, which also doubled as a supreme court overseen by a "Justiciar" [which office King Henry created], who was made the chief-judge over all of the country's law-courts. Henry, of course, as king, was the supreme-judge, to whom any of his subjects customary may appeal their case. King Henry also established the system of itinerant judges dispatched from the royal court to the country's localities.
The country's churches were allowed to re-open by King Henry who restored all the bishops, priests, and vicars to their offices; and King Henry patched up things with the pope apologizing for the abuses of his late brother. Henry tried to establish good relations with the pope, but came into conflict with the pope over the question of the investiture of the clergy in their offices. For the pope had granted his father, William The Conqueror, the right to invest his own bishops; but had no wish to extend the concession to his sons, which gave rise to the "investiture controversy."
It appears that Henry was a likable king. He was said to have been of average height, fair-looking, with a well-built physique. His coolness, presence of mind, and calm composure contrasted sharply with the high charged emotional temperament of either his late brother or his late father, although like them Henry was capable of great cruelty and could be very ruthless. He was a firm, exacting king; and, a strict enforcer of the law. Too, he was a shrewd politician as portrayed in his marriage to the Saxo-Scot co-heiress Edith of Athole [who changed her name to the Norman-sounding "Matilda"], the daughter of King Malcolm III of Scotland and St. Margaret, the sister and heiress of the ex-king EDGAR II "AETHELING," the last of the old line of English kings. The marriage, of course, was politically motivated for it robbed the claims of the Scottish line to the English throne of much of its force, for the children of St. Margaret, the English heiress, were regarded by the English people as representing the older royal race and thus were rival claimants of the Norman kings to the English throne. The marriage won King Henry immense popularity among the English people and helped to remove any doubts about the legitimacy of the Norman succession. Henry kept on good terms with his wife throughout their eighteen-year marriage despite the fact that he had numerous mistresses and numerous illegitimate children. Their first-born, a son, died premature at birth (1101); another son, William "Aetheling," was born the next year (1102); and lastly a daughter, Matilda, was born the following year (1103).
A revolt of the Norman barons in Wales broke out in 1108, and the forces of King Henry I reduced the palatine earldom of Shrewsbury, which was then converted into the shire of Shropshire. On his march to Pembroke Henry I took Carmarthen where he built a castle, which became the chief royal centre in South Wales. The Bishop of Salisbury, King Henry's "justiciar," was given the lordship of Kidwelly; and, to the Earl of Warwick was granted the lordship of Gower. The Lord of Clifford, advancing from Brecon, established himself in Landovery where he built his castle. The lordship of Cemaes, with its castle at Nevern, and later at Newport, was given to Fitz Martin of Tours. Ceredigion was granted to Gilbert FItzRichard de Clare of Clare Manor in Suffolk, who built his castle at Cardigan. Only Cantref Mawr in South Wales remained to the native Welsh ruler, Gruffydd, King of Deheubarth. Thus the greater part of Deheubarth was lost to the Welsh; but after the death of King Henry I in 1135 the Welsh seized the opportunity by the outbreak of civil war in England between Queen Matilda [King Henry I's daughter] and her cousin King Stephen [King Henry I's nephew] to rise up against the Normans. And, the Welsh drove the Normans out of their estates. In South Wales, the Welsh successfully drove out most of the Normans and re-established the Kingdom of Deheubarth. In North Wales the Welsh of Gwynedd drove the Normans almost to the borders of Chester.
The English succession was thrown into confusion by the early death of Prince William at age eighteen or nineteen, who tragically drowned with his entourage in the wreck of the White Ship in the English Channel off Barfleur while on his way back to England from Normandy, which duchy his father had bestowed on him (1120). He had gone to France to be formally invested as Duke of Normandy by King Louis VI of France, and on his return to England he and his entourage had barely set sail when the ship, steered by drunken helmsmen, struck a rock and wrecked. It was a terrible blow not only to King Henry but to the whole English nation. After the death of Prince William [called "Aetheling" as the heir of the old English kings] the other Prince William [called "Clito" as the heir of the Norman dukes], the son of King Henry's elder brother Robert "Curthose," was generally considered to be the heir to the throne. The ex-king Edgar II "Aetheling" was still alive, and, there was still support for him in England for his restoration. He was invited back to England by King Henry who gave him an estate in England for his residence. For the ex-king by then had become a childless elderly gentleman who never had married due to his life-long military-career as a "free-lancer." William "Clito," a hot-blooded, ambitious young man, raised a rebellion and was killed while attempting to overthrow his uncle, King Henry, and take the throne by force. Henry, three years after the death of his queen, Matilda (Edith) of Scotland (1118), married secondly (1121) Adeliza of Louvain in the hope of begetting another male heir, but their marriage did not produce any children. Henry had nine illegitimate sons and sixteen illegitimate daughters, but bastards were by this time disqualified from the succession or any inheritance from their parents. Henry, accepting the fact that he was unlikely to produce another male heir, declared his daughter MATILDA as his heiress, and bribed the barons with lavish gifts from the royal treasury to support her (1126). She had just returned to England from abroad following the death of her husband, the Holy Roman Emperor Henry V, the last of his line (1125). They had a daughter, Christina, but no sons. Matilda was still within her child-bearing years and since she had been declared heiress it was important for her to remarry and hopefully beget a male heir. She was betrothed to the ex-king EDGAR II in 1126, but he died just before their marriage. King Henry had the remains of the late ex-king Edgar II laid to rest with his ancestors in Winchester Cathedral [formerly called the "New Minister"], which was a great gesture to the English Nation on his part. The death the ex-king Edgar II, in 1126, nullified his betrothal to marry King Henry's daughter, Matilda; and in stead she married (1127) as her second husband Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou, thus, reinforcing the continental drift of the monarchy, and by him was the mother of three sons, the eldest of whom was the future King Henry II.
Still distraught over the death of his only male heir, King Henry became a somber and sad figure in his remaining years. It is said that after the wreck of the White Ship he never smiled again. Henry I died in 1135 (age 67) in the thirty-fifth year of his reign. He was buried in Reading Abbey, Berkshire. His tomb was destroyed during the republican era, 1650s. The "ASC" says that Henry "was a good man, held in great awe." Henry I ought to have been succeeded by his daughter Matilda but the feeling was so strong at the time among the Norman barons against the rule of a woman that despite the pledge of the barons to support her succession the barons instead raised her cousin Stephen to the throne.
STEPHEN (age 39) usurped the throne on the death of his uncle King Henry I [his mother's brother] in 1135 in prejudice of his cousin MATILDA, King Henry I's daughter, the legal heir, who was out of the country at the time, and was upheld by the Norman barons who reneged on their oaths to Matilda and officially elected her cousin Stephen king. Stephen was the son of Etienne-Henri, the Count of Blois, and Adela, the only one of The Conqueror's daughters to have children. Adela's husband died while their children were still young, and Stephen as a boy was brought up by his mother, the head-strong daughter of William "The Conqueror," in the English Court of his uncle [her brother] King Henry I; and Stephen became his uncle's favorite. Stephen was made Count of Mortain in the English Peerage by King Henry I, his uncle. Stephen was the only English monarch of the House of Blois.
The House of Blois was a French noble house of Norse ancestry which [according to one theory] descended from the Viking Sea-King Sholto (750), whose ancestry is a mystery to this author, who some genealogists say was the ancestor of three great descent-lines, which were: (1) the French House of Blois [its 2nd dynasty]; (2) the Scottish clan of Douglas; and (3) the Irish MacDougils. The son of Sholto, namely, William, accompanied Charlemagne on his Italian campaign (774). Another genealogy makes the ancestor of the House of Blois to have been the Viking-Leader Gerlon, the leader of a war-band of Vikings, descended from Ogier "The Dane," who was appointed governor of Blois by the King of France (920), who founded Blois' 3rd dynasty. These two origin-stories doubtless represent two separate foundings of the County of Blois by two separate dynasties, Dynasties Two and Three. There is another origin-story of the County of Blois that makes the ancestor of its first dynasty to be Ivomadus, a Gallo-Roman general in the service of the British Emperor Constantine II [III-RE] who occupied Blois in AD 410. The provincial-governor Aguyvus "Le Blois" is reckoned to have been one of his descendants. The names of three generations of the first dynasty of the Counts of Blois are known to be (a) Hugues, Count of Blois (d534); (b) Melaudon of Blois (d560), and (c) Beleis (Abelechin) "Le Voir" (d593). Their genealogy as far as this author knows has never been researched or reconstructed from medieval records. The genealogies of the second and third dynasties of Blois are also unsure in their early stages, and puts in question which descent-line is the true male-line of the house.
His queen, Matilda of Boulogne, bore Stephen three sons and two daughters. His second-son Eustace became his heir on the death of his first-born son Baldwin at age nine; and his third-son William became his heir on the death of Prince Eustace at age twenty-two. Stephen also had illegitimate issue, as was expected of kings in those days. Stephen has been described as a "good-natured, warm-hearted, open-handed, and a chivalrous gentleman," however, he was a weak ruler, politically inept, and lacked many of the qualities necessary for kingship. The nobles recognized these weaknesses in King Stephen and exploited them to their own advantage. King Stephen was quite unable to control the feuding Norman barons, and the country collapsed into disorder. There was a rebellion of the Norman barons in 1136, the year following King Stephen's usurpation. As late as 1137 there was an English plot which was foiled to drive the Normans out of England and hand over the English crown to either of several claimants of the Old English Royal House, namely: (a) Malcolm "MacHeth," Earl of Ross [son of Ethelred, Abbot of Dunkeld, who had been debarred from the succession]; or (b) Harold, the eldest son of the late King Edgar of Scotland and his wife Ealdgyth, daughter of Maldred, Lord of Carlyle & Allerdale; or (c) King David "The Saint" of Scotland, whose mother had been "Saint" Margaret, the English heiress, sister of the ex-king Edgar II "Aetheling." Most of the reign of King Stephen, described as "nineteen long winters," was occupied in a civil war to keep the throne against his cousin Matilda, the lawful queen, while England fell into anarchy and into the prey of the Norman barons who robbed villages, looted abbeys, and terrorized its people into paying exorbitant taxes.
MATILDA, called "THE EMPRESS", as the widow of the Holy Roman Emperor Henry V, and, called "LADY" [of England] as the daughter and heiress of her late father, the Norman King Henry I of England, was regarded as the rightful successor to the throne by the majority of the English people. She contested the usurpation or election of her cousin Stephen in 1135, but it was not until 1139 that she was able to come to England to claim her inheritance. She gathered forces on the European continent and came asserting her claim to the English Throne. The allegiance of the barons split on her arrival in the country, and civil war broke out. Matilda after a hard fought campaign at length overcame Stephen at the Battle of Lincoln and entered London in triumph to the cheers of its citizens. King Stephen was deposed by a council held at Winchester [7 Apr. 1141] and imprisoned in Bristol Castle; and Matilda, England's Empress, was proclaimed "Lady of England" (age 38). In those days a king was usually styled "lord" or in the case of a queen "lady" before his or her coronation, though fully sovereign. Queen/Empress Matilda reigned only seven months [Apr.-Nov.]. The country took an immediate dislike to her. There was something about her that brought out the worst in people. Her rule was harsh and the heavy taxes she levied made her very unpopular. She alienated most of her supporters, and enthusiasm for her cause quickly faded away. She was arrogant and tactless; and was so proud, haughty, and superior-acting that soon everyone came to be disgusted with her. And, before her coronation, the citizens of London rose up in rebellion against Queen/Empress Matilda and drove her out of the city and sent deputies to offer the throne back to the ex-king Stephen. A period of anarchy followed and civil war again broke out between Empress Matilda and King Stephen. The civil war was finally brought to an end through the efforts of the Church by a compromise in which King Stephen was allowed to keep the throne for life but lost the succession for his son Prince William in favor of Empress Matilda's son Count Henry. The ex-queen Empress Matilda left England in 1147/48 and returned to the continent and lived abroad as the reigning duchess of Normandy. She was England's last Norman monarch. The ex-queen Empress Matilda died some years later (1167) (age 64) and was buried first in the convent of Bonnes Nouvelles, and later transferred to the Abbey of Bec. Her remains were later removed to Rouen Cathedral, where a brass plate marks her grave.
STEPHEN [of Blois] reigned a second time upon his restoration in 1141 following the expulsion of Empress Matilda and his release from prison. He was unable to gain control of affairs, and the country slide back into anarchy. King Stephen, a sad figure, died in great agony from acute appendicitis in 1154 (age 59) in the nineteenth year of his reign and was buried in Faversham Abbey, Kent; and, in accordance to a legally binding pact was succeeded by Empress Matilda's son Duke Henry who became King Henry II.
HENRY II, called "CURTMANTLE" for a short cloak he wore [that set a new style in men‘s clothes], also called "FITZ-EMPRESS" after his mother, was the son of Matilda, Lady [Queen] of England, and the French Count of Anjou, Touraine, and Maine. Henry II "Curtmantle" succeeded to the throne in 1154 (age 21) on the death of King Stephen [his mother's cousin] as per according to a pact, or "testament," made by his mother, Empress Matilda, with King Stephen. Henry II was the first English monarch of the House of Anjou, the Angevins, which was also called "Plantagenet" [= "planta genista," meaning "sprig of broom," which was a bright yellow blossom], a nickname for a helmet decoration worn by King Henry II's father, Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou, instead of a feathered plume which was usually worn on helmets. King Henry II has been described as a stout, red-headed, athletic man with a cracked voice.
The House of Anjou was a French noble house of royal Gallic ancestry. Geoffrey of Anjou, the dashing prince-consort of England's queen Matilda, descended in the male-line from Geoffrey "Ferole" of Chateau-Landon, Count of Gatinais, ancestor of the third Angevin dynasty, who descended from Warin, the twin brother of Mille [the ancestor of the Capetians of France], the sons of Robert, Duke of Hesbaye, the grandson of [another] Warin, Count of Paris, the brother of St. Leger, Bishop of Autun, and, Didion, Bishop of Poitiers, another brother, the three sons of Bodilon [and wife, Sigrade, his niece], who descended from Torquatus [Torquate], the first Count of Anjou (513), the founder of the first Angevin dynasty, one of the original "Twelve Peers of France," the grandson of Syagrius, the last Roman Governor of Gaul, who descended from old pre-Roman Gallic kings, e.g., Ambiorix "The Heroic Gaul" (58-53BC), Akichorix, King of Gaul (300-250BC), Ambigatus, "the Celtic Charlemagne" (500BC), who were themselves descended from the old Iron Age Celtic emperors, e.g., Albiorix "Galates," the son of the Greek hero HERCULES and Galatea Keltine, Queen of Gaul (1200BC), only child and daughter of Narbos Celtae (1250BC), the last male-line descentdant on the Old Celtic Royal House founded by Samothes (2050BC). Thus, the Angevins ["Plantagenets"] of England and the Capetians of France were collateral-lines of an ancient dynasty of pre-Roman Gallic kings who were the cousins of the ancient Macedonian-Greek kings, as well as the Thessalian kings, the co-kings of Sparta, and also of other Classical Greek dynasties. The Angevins ["Plantagenets"], appear later divided into two major branches, namely, the houses of Lancaster and York, which fought the "War of The Roses." The 1st Angevin dynasty was restored to its ancient estate after an interim as the 3rd Angevin Dynasty succeeding the 2nd Angevin Dynasty, which the Plantagenets also represented through intermarriage. The 2nd Angevin dynasty was founded by Tertulle [Tertullus] of Rennes, who possibly may be identified with [or have been the son of] Tortulfe "The Woodsman" of Nid-de-Merie, called "a soldier of fortune," and, his wife, Melusine, called "the Devil's Daughter" in local lore because she was non-European by race and non-Christian in religion and was rumored to have practiced witchcraft and the "black arts," hence, the tradition arose that the Plantagenets were "Satan's Spawns." It was said of the Plantagenets that "from the Devil they came and to the Devil they will return." Tertulle of Rennes is however usually regarded as the son of Hugh, Count of Bourges, Auxerre, and Nevers, which would make him a scion of the House of Alsace and the Ethiconides. Tertulle founded the 2nd Angevin dynasty following the Viking Wars that swept away the 1st Angevin dynasty. The descendants of Tertelle, the 2nd Angevin dynasty, ended with an heiress, Ermengarde, Countess of Anjou, who married Geoffrey "Ferole," Count of Gatinais (above), descended from the 1st Angevin dynasty who became the ancestor of the 3rd Angevin dynasty.
Before he became King of England Henry "Plantagenet" was already ruler of half of France. He had become Duke of Normandy which was resigned to him by his mother (1150), and had become Count of Anjou, Touraine, and Maine, on the death of his father (1151), and had come into possession of several other French provinces by marriage (1152) to the heiress of those estates, Eleanor of Aquitaine, which included Aquitaine (Guyenne), Poitou, Gascogne, Auvergne, Perigord, Limousin, and La Marche, over which Henry exercised overlordship. Bretagne (Brittany) came under Henry's domination with the later marriage of its heiress to one of his sons. These territories formed the Angevin Empire. It left the domain of the King of France to only the Il-de-France and its surrounding counties as an isle in a sea of the Angevins' possessions. Eleanor's family also had claims to the fiefs of the Count of Toulouse which Count Henry prepared to enforce by force of arms, but King Louis VII of France threw himself into Toulouse and Henry shrank back from fighting his suzerain as a vassal of the French Crown, and withdrew from Toulouse (1159). England was but a part of the far wider Angevin Empire, and not necessarily the most important part, for the early Angevin kings were very much attached to their French dominions and roots. Each dominion had its own government and each was ruled according to the customs of that domain, and the king's court ["curia regis"] provided the administrative unity for all of the dominions. Henry II was very energetic and traveled ceaselessly about his extensive domains. It helped that Henry II spoke several languages such that he was able to communicate with all of his feudal lords in their own native languages. Henry II thus was more of an European ruler than an English king. The fact that English kings held lands in France dominated English foreign policy for hundreds of years; and, in consequence, it postponed any attempt to fashion a united kingdom of the British Isles.
Ireland, Wales, and Scotland were subdued by King Henry II during his reign, and he held sway over the whole of the British Isles. Not since Canute "The Great" had any English king exercised overlordship over the whole British Isles. King Henry II inherited claims to the overlordships of Wales and Scotland, however, he was content during his early reign to secure stable relations with the native rulers of those countries. His intervention in Ireland in 1171 was even designed to contain the Anglo-Norman adventurers already there in the interests of the Irish native rulers. Henry had considered an Irish venture of conquest in 1155 after the pope issued the papal bull "Laudabiliter" (1154), which gave Ireland to England, but delayed the venture for an opportune time. The authorization by which The Holy See had given Ireland to King Henry II of England in 1154 was based on a document drawn up by an assembly of Irish chieftains in 1092 which had entrusted the Irish crown to The Holy See; hence, from 1092 to 1154 Ireland was technically a fief of The Holy See. The Pope in 1154 even sent King Henry II the royal Irish regalia, which had been entrusted to The Holy See since 1092, to recognize him as "King of Ireland" and successor of Irish Kings. The opportunity came when the Irish provincial king Dermot IV of Leinster, who had been driven from his kingdom by a civil war, came to Angers Castle, Anjou, France [the dynasty's seat], and appealed to King Henry II of England for help. Henry sent a company of soldiers to Ireland in 1169 to restore Dermot in Leinster, which gave the Anglo-Normans a foothold in Ireland. The Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169 was not an English invasion, for the English were still not assimilated by the predominantly French-speaking Norman-Angevin Empire, and conflicts were still erupting between Norman overlords and their English vassals. In 1170 Richard de Clare "Strong-Bow," Earl of Pembroke, came in force with a great army of mercenaries, or Norman adventurers. They were joined by forces under Maurice Fitz-Gerald, Robert Fitz-Stephen, Maurice Prendergast, Hervey de Montmarish, Raymond Fitz-William "Le Gros," Miles de Cogan, William Fitz-Adelm, Philip de Braose, John de Courcy, Robert de Bermingham, William de Barri, and others, who landed with Norman, Welsh, and Flemish forces. More troops were sent to Ireland in the following months. A force under Richard de Clare, Earl of Pembroke, defeated and slew Ostell, the 37th and last Viking-King of Dublin, ending the Danish kingdom of Dublin in 1170 and establishing the English lordship [earldom] of Dublin with de Clare as the first Lord of Dublin. Meantime, in Ulster, Conchobar II, the 55th King of Ailech; Murchad ua Cerbaill, the 83rd King of Airgialla; and Magnus, the 90th King of Ulaid, were all defeated in battle in 1170 fighting English troops. The marriage of Richard de Clare to Aeoifa, the daughter of Dermot IV, the 78th King of Leinster, left de Clare as King of Leinster in right of his wife upon King Dermot's death in 1171. Meantime, Dermot's son, Domnall [V] "Caemanach," the last native King of Leinster, set himself up as king in opposition to Richard de Clare, and opposed him until his death (1175). Richard de Clare hastily returned to England to appease the jealousy of King Henry and gave Dublin to the English Crown, and did homage for Leinster as an English lordship, giving up the title "king" in exchange for the title "earl" in recognition of King Henry's overlordship as one of his vassals. He accompanied King Henry II who proceeded to Ireland in 1171 in the "great Anglo-Norman invasion," with 400 ships carrying 5000 soldiers, to assume control over the Irish campaigns of his Anglo-Norman adventurers. Henry II invaded Ireland with an Anglo-Norman Army and spent six months campaigning in Ireland and thus laid the foundations of what became English rule. He defeated the Irish in a series of battles, and the whole country surrendered to King Henry in a mass submission. Mael Sechlainn II, last King of the Deisi, was among the Irish "provincial-kings" who fell in battle. The Irish High-King, that is, Ruaidri II [Rory O'Connor], the King of Ireland, after his defeat in the Battle of Dublin against the Anglo-Normans, went about collecting troops from all parts of Ireland to resist the invaders, and to make a stand for the independence of the nation. This show of resistance did not last long, for Ruaidri II, exhausted, came to realize that he could not sustain the war any longer, and when he heard that the Irish "provincial kings" had deserted him and had put themselves under the protection of the King of England he sent messengers to the English king to make peace and acknowledged his overlordship, and surrendered along with all of the Irish provincial kings and regional chiefs, among whom were: Domnall IX "Breagach," the 67th and last King of Meath; Cathal VI "Crobderg," the 70th and last King of Connaught; Domnall II "Mor," the 66th and last King of Munster and the 1st Earl of Munster; Domnall [V] "Caemanach," the 80th and last King of Leinster; and, Prince O'Neill, Aedh "an Macaemh Toinleasc," the royal Irish heir. He established himself as King of Ulster in 1176 but was killed the next year in 1177 fighting an English force under John de Courcy. The last king of Ulster's 2nd Dynasty was Ruaidri [Rory Mac Donslevy], the 99th King of Ulaid [IIB], who was succeeded by the son of the late Prince O'Neill who styled himself Aedh X "Meth," who consolidated the O'Neills in Ulster as Ulster's 3rd Dynasty (1201).
King Henry held court at Dublin, where he received the submission of the Irish "provincial kings" who all made a pact with the English king and pledged to be his vassals. The Irish provincial kingdoms all became English lordships in 1172 and the heirs of their old royal houses dropped their title "king" to become earls in the English Peerage. Ruaidri II, the last native "King of Ireland," did not immediately loose his throne. Ruaidri II concluded a treaty with Henry II whereby he and all future Kings of Ireland would hold the Irish kingdom as a fief "in capite," as vassals of the English crown. Thus, Ruaidri II became vassal-king of Ireland with Henry II of England as overlord, and had to pay tribute annually. And, in a "parliament" or assembly of the Irish chieftains at Lismore it was solemnly determined that the kings of England would, in all future time, be lords [overlords] of Ireland, whereupon King Henry II of England took the title "Lord of Ireland," and English kings were styled "Lords" of Ireland from 1172 to 1541 when Henry VIII changed the style to "King."
The feudal system of government was introduced in Ireland by Henry II modeled on England's administrative system. King Henry partitioned Ireland among his barons. Gilbert de Angulo was given Meath. The province of Connaught was given to William FitzAdelm. Dublin was given to Hugh de Lacy. Waterford was given to Robert de la Poer, who divided it up among Humphrey de Bohun, Robert FitzBernard, and Hugh de Gundeville. Limerick was placed under the lordship of Herbert FitzHerbert, who resigned and conferred the lordship to Philip de Briouze. Robert FitzStephen and Maurice FitzGerald were made the city's co-adjudicators. Robert FitzWilliam was given command of the English troops in Ireland, usually stationed at Dublin. Ulster was given to John de Courcy. These Norman barons over the years forged marriage alliances with native Irish rulers, and were culturally "gaelicized" over the course of time. The "gaelicized" Norman barons of Ireland came to be increasingly independent of the mother-country, and centuries later rose up in rebellion against the English crown.
King Henry wintered in Ireland. He held a synod of all of Ireland's bishops at Cashel early in 1172 to reform the country's religion from its native brand of Celtic Christianity to Roman Catholicism, which was attended by a papal legate, Vivianus, dispatched by the pope, who made known to the Irish clergy the papal bull, called the "Laudabiliter" [so-called from the first word of its Latin text], granting Ireland to King Henry II and his successors, and, who introduced to Ireland the payment of "Peter's Pence" annually to Rome. It was forgotten that the church in Ireland at this time had been in conflict with Rome for many centuries. Later, in 1186, the pope sent to King Henry II the royal Irish crown to confirm him in the Fiefdom of Ireland. It was the same crown that had been given to an earlier pope by the deposed and exiled Irish king, Donchad O'Brien, and his enormous entourage, in 1064. The crown had been entrusted to the Roman Catholic Church for the pope to bestow it upon whomever he may choose. That year, 1186, Henry II thought to bestow the kingship of Ireland on his son, John; for he had already crowned his eldest son, Henry, as "King of England" in 1170, demonstrating that England and Ireland were regarded by King Henry only as provinces of the Angevin Empire, centered in Anjou (cap.: Angers), in France.
By spring, urgent affairs called King Henry II to England though he had not planned to depart Ireland until summer. However, before his departure, King Henry II appointed Hugh de Lacy as the first of a series of English governors of Ireland who were to rule the country in the name of the Kings of England for the next 750 years (1172-1921).The Governor of Ireland sat at Dublin, which surrounding counties was called "the English Pale." His authority was rarely recognized outside The Pale, and the native Irish chiefs, now earls in the English Peerage, continued to govern their ancient estates. Ruaidri II, King of Ireland, tried to strengthen his bond with the Norman conquerors by marrying his daughter, Aoeifa, to Ireland's first "English" governor, Hugh de Lacy; and, declared Aoeifa to be his "banchomarbae" ["female-heiress"]. Hugh de Lacy quelled an Irish uprising in 1175 that led to the "Treaty of Windsor" (1175), the terms of which obliged the last native Irish High-King Ruaidri II to designate Henry II of England as his "tanist" [heir]. Ruaidri II traveled to London and signed the Treaty of Windsor in 1175 acknowledging English overlordship, and gave homage to King Henry II as his suzerain. The Irish subjects of King Ruaidri II grew tired of him in the following years, and he came to be very unpopular in his own country among his own people, and he was deposed in 1183 by his sons, who each contented for the Irish high-kingship in a civil war against their father and then among themselves. It was an ignominious end to Ireland's last native high-king. The ex-king Ruaidri devoted the last thirteen years of his life to monastic seclusion at Cong Abbey, where he died at the advanced age of 82 in 1198 un-mourned and long forgotten by his former subjects. The Irish King Ruaidri II was survived by a daughter Aoeife, whom he had designated his heiress, wife of the English Governor, Hugh de Lacy [his 2nd wife]. Through their issue a descent-line may be traced to later English kings, through the Earls of Ulster. Henry II was himself descended from Irish royalty through his grandmother Edith of Athole, whose family was a Scottish branch of the Irish Royal House [the O'Neills].
Upon returning from Ireland King Henry campaigned in Wales and obliged the Welsh kings to drop their title "king" and adopt the title "prince" in recognition of his overlordship, and Wales became an English principality in 1172. Henry also retook Cumberland, Westmoreland, and Northumberland from the King of Scotland and re-established the northern border of England along the mountain-line of the Cheviots, and campaigned in Scotland, forced the submission of its king, and Scotland became an English fief in 1174.
As one of the greatest European medieval kings, King Henry II of England was offered the imperial crown of the Holy Roman Empire as well as the crown of the Crusader-Kingdom of Jerusalem [as a relative of its royal house also] but declined to accept either invitation. [The Crusader-Kingdom of Jerusalem at the time was suffering from difficulties per the succession to its throne which led to the disintegration of the kingdom and its conquest by the Saracens, i.e., Muslims, under Saladin, which prompted another crusade to recover the kingdom in the next generation led by King Henry's son, Richard "The Lion-Heart."]
A number of important legal reforms were enacted by Henry II and among them were changes he made in the judicial system which included trial-by-jury of one's equals, which was a radical concept in those days. Henry made it possible for an increasing number of cases to be heard by his judges and greatly extended the use of juries in cases heard in his courts. He dismissed incompetent sheriffs, re-established the circuit-tours of judges dispatched from the royal court to the empire‘s domains, and involved the "royal court" in policy-making [which set a dangerous precedent that enabled the "royal court" to evolve into "parliament" in later centuries ]. Henry was a man of many accomplishments. He was a strong, able king, and a vigorous administrator of his domains. His strenuous exertion of trying to hold together his vast empire prematurely aged him.
The conflict King Henry had with the Church was the setting for the movie "Becket." Thomas Becket, formerly Henry's chancellor and close companion, now Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, disagreed with King Henry over the issue of whether church ministers who committed crimes were to be tried in church courts or in state courts and resisted King Henry's attempts to persuade him otherwise, and they quarreled over the issue which ended in Becket's murder by four of King Henry's knights who heard King Henry's exasperated utterance: "is there no one who will rid me of this rogue priest?"; and took him at his word although without his knowledge. Henry had a terrible temper, was volatile, and often hasty in his words and actions. King Henry was blamed for Becket's murder by the English populace, and, though the pope had absolved him of the murder yet under pressure of public opinion Henry submitted to a humiliating public scouring by church clerics. He did public penance by donning sackcloth and ashes, undergoing a three days' fast [which alarmed his ministers], and walking barefoot in a pilgrim's gown through the streets of Canterbury to Becket's tomb where he barred his back and all the monks of the abbey chapter lashed him seven times apiece with Henry receiving hundreds of welts and wounds. This would have killed a weaker person, but Henry was a strong man, sturdily built, and was able to walk back through the streets of Canterbury and then to mount his horse and ride off back to London.
First were his quarrels with Becket, then were his quarrels with his wife, Queen Eleanor, and, then, there followed a series of quarrels with his sons. Henry II was so overbearing that he tended to alienate those closest to him. Henry, of Eleanor, had six sons and three daughters. His second-son Henry became his heir on the death of his first-born William at age three; and his fifth son Philip died soon after birth. The marriages of his daughters set-up links with the rulers of Sicily, Castile, and Saxony. His queen, Eleanor, came to hate Henry for his open flagrant infidelities. They had a stormy marriage. The couple were quite incompatible. He would do anything to irritate her; and she did her utmost to turn her sons against their father and would delight in backing first one son and then another against him. Henry also had illegitimate issue, at least six or seven sons and one or more daughters. He took advantage of his role as guardian and protector [pending the intended marriage of his eldest son, Richard, whom he despised], to seduce his son's fiancee, Alice of France, daughter of King Louis VII of France, and kept her from marrying his son, solely to spite him. His most famous mistress was Rosamund Clifford with whom he lived openly after his estrangement from his queen. His sons, stirred up by their mother Queen Eleanor, Henry II's neglected wife, rebelled against their father. The rebellion embittered King Henry against his queen and his sons [except his youngest son, John, his favorite] and he never got over it. The rebellion was crushed by King Henry in battle at Gisors, France, upon which his sons, Prince Henry, Prince Richard, and Prince Geoffrey, fled to the protection of the royal court of the King of France at Paris [who had provided troops to the three royal brothers]; and their mother Queen Eleanor was shut-up by their father [King Henry] inside Winchester Castle where she was kept under house-arrest in comfortable confinement for the next sixteen years until King Henry's death. Nonetheless, twelve years later, in 1185, during the Christmas Holidays, King Henry gathered all of his family together at Chinon Castle, in Touraine, France, to hash out their grievances which was the setting for the movie "The Lion In Winter." It was an explosive situation. They would scheme, cajole, argue, and trick their way through both real and imagined alliances. Henry duped the others, then, he, in turn, was duped by them. The quarreling went on all during the Christmas Season, and after the holidays with nothing resolved his sons went back into exile and his queen went back into comfortable confinement at Winchester Castle. His heir, Henry, called "The Young King" because he was crowned king in his father's lifetime, died while in rebellion against his father. His only child, William, begotten of his wife Margaret of France, died in infancy. The discovery that King Henry's youngest and favorite son Prince John had conspired with his older brothers against him so shocked King Henry that he fell into a quick decline and died heartbroken several weeks later in 1189 (age 56) in the thirty-fifth year of his reign. He was buried in Fontevraud Abbey, France, on the north side of the nave.
RICHARD I, called "LION-HEART" for his courage, was still in rebellion against his father at the time of his father's death yet he had the support of the people and since he was the next heir was received by the people as their king on his father's death and succeeded to the throne in 1189 (age 32). Richard "Lion-Heart" epitomizes the "Age of Chivalry." He was a soldier-king, tall, athletic, strong, and displayed the etiquette of knightly qualities. He was brave in battle, chivalrous, and ever gallant in victory. He was everything expected of a king. He was intelligent, well-educated, cultured, polished, and refined; spoke several languages, was polite, well-mannered, and courtly; and, of course, dashing, handsome, and glamorous. Richard was a brilliant general, skilled in strategy, logistics and tactics; as well as a skillful diplomat. There was another side to Richard as a romantic who wrote poetry and played music. King Richard was enormously popular and greatly admired by his countrymen. He caught the imagination of his generation and became a national hero and the subject of numerous European romantic sagas. Richard was absent from England for most of his reign fighting in foreign wars leaving England to be governed by regents.
To the detriment of the country, King Richard became obsessed with the noble aim of retaking The Holy Land from the Saracens. The year following his succession King Richard set off on the "Third Crusade" against the Saracens [Muslims] occupying The Holy Land with a large fleet carrying thousands of soldiers and left the government of the realm in the hands of William Longchamp, the Bishop of Ely, who, after King Richard had gone, was expelled by Richard's younger brother, the so-called "evil prince," John, who took over the country as regent and filled the offices of government with his circle of friends and oppressed the people with high taxes, injustice, and bad laws. To this period belongs the adventures of Robin Hood and his outlaw-band of "merry men" of Sherwood Forest. Meantime, King Richard had some remarkable military successes against the Saracens in The Holy Land. He was ruthless and struck fear in the hearts of the Saracens. His victory over Saladin at Arsouf and his capture of Acre, Jaffa, and other towns, fueled the growth of the legend of his invincibility among the Muslims. For centuries afterwards Moslem mothers would hush their children with the words: "Malek-Ric [King Richard] will get you!" [or, "the British are coming!"]. News came to King Richard of his brother's rebellion in England while besieging Jerusalem at the climax of his career. This, and the news that King Philip of France had occupied his French fiefs, made King Richard call-off the expedition and hasten home to restore his realm. A truce was concluded with Saladin, the Saracen sultan, and by its terms Saladin was left in possession of Jerusalem but had to recognize the revived Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem [with its capital now at Acre] which Richard reconstituted under the heirs of its old royal house. Richard sent his fleet on ahead and set out for home crossing Europe by land traveling incognito. He however was recognized and captured in Austria and imprisoned for fifteen months by its duke Leopold V [whom Richard had once insulted] who was in collusion with Prince John of England and with King Philip II of France. Here belongs the episode of how the minstrel Blondel de Nesle sought out Richard by traveling throughout Austria singing a song Richard was fond of until he heard the refrain taken up by Richard from a barred window in a tower of Durnstein Castle, where Richard was being held prisoner. The attempt to rescue Richard was botched up and failed, and Richard was not released until a huge ransom of 100,000 marks was paid for him by the English people, which was an enormous sum in those days [and still is these days]. It was testimony to the love for the king by his subjects that the English people willing paid the ransom. The ransom was raised and King Richard returned home. Upon returning to England, Richard banished the rebel barons but at his mother's urging pardoned Prince John, whose reckless escapades were looked upon by Queen Eleanor with indulgence. King Richard purged the government of corrupt officials and restored good government in the country. Richard, six months later, after restoring his English kingdom, appointed Hubert Walter, Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, as regent, crossed over to France, defeated the French King Philip II in battle at Freteval, and retook his French fiefs which had been seized by the French king.
Though Richard was betrothed to the French princess Alice, sister of King Philip II of France [whom his father, King Henry II, had earlier made his mistress], he married the Spanish princess Berengaria of Navarre, the two having met as teenagers. Richard did not have any children by his queen Berengaria however he did have illegitimate issue by affairs before his marriage, that is: (a) Fulque, a son, begotten by Joan de St. Pol, onetime his mistress; (b) Philip (1184-1212), a son, begotten by an early lover; and, (c) Isabel [or Elizabeth], a daughter, whose mother is unsure. Queen Berengaria joined her husband King Richard in the Holy Land in 1191; but on Richard's departure for home across Europe overland the queen took ship and traveled by sea, and the couple did not see each other again for five years, until after the ransom was paid for and his release. She, after King Richard's death, founded the Abbey of L'Epau at Le Mans, in Bigorre, France, and retired there where she spent her remaining days.
His last years Richard spent campaigning in France attempting to bring his wayward French vassals back into line. A local uprising in Limousin, one of Richard's French domains, brought him there, and Richard was shot in the shoulder by an arrow while besieging Chalus Castle, the stronghold of the rebellious Viscount of Limoges and the barracks of his county‘s militia. He made light of the wound and continued the siege, successfully taking the castle several days later. His doctor, Marchadeus, bungled the job of removing the arrow and the wound turned gangrenous and Richard died twelve days later, nursed to the last by his mother Queen Eleanor along with his wife Queen Berengaria ever vigil by his side. He drank heavily as he lay rotting with gangrene. King Richard forgave the man who shot the arrow, Bertrand de Gurdun, but after the king's death he was flayed alive and hanged by Richard's troops. Too, his doctor, Marchadeus, paid with his own life for mishandling the case. King Richard I died in 1199 (age 42) in the tenth year of his reign and was buried in Fontevraud Abbey, on the south side of the nave [opposite his father's tomb on the north side].
JOHN, the archetype of a "wicked king," called "LACKLAND" or "LANDLESS", a nickname given to him in jest which clung to him for life, usurped the throne (age 32) on the death of his brother, King Richard, in 1199, with the support of the Norman barons in prejudice of the legal heir, his nephew, Prince Arthur, the son of his late older brother, Prince Geoffrey. England along with Normandy and Aquitaine chose to support Prince John over Prince Arthur, for Prince Arthur was a minor, age eleven, and the nobles of those lands did not like the fact that his unpopular mother, Constance, the Duchess of Brittany, would become regent during his minority; while the heartland of the Angevin Dynasty, that is, Anjou, Touraine, and Maine, chose to support Prince Arthur. King John, who was notoriously cruel, violent, and ruthless, without conscience or any moral sense murdered Prince Arthur to secure himself on the throne, and imprisoned the boy's older sister, Princess Eleanor, called "Maid of Brittany," the next in line to the throne. She was held captive in Bristol Castle for 38 years, never allowed to marry, and was probably starved to death. It outraged the French vassals of King John and they revolted against him; and gave no resistance to King Philip II of France, who, seeing his opportunity here, marched in and occupied the French homeland and territories of the Angevins in 1204 which made England from that time onwards the dynasty's new home. After which England emerged as the central kingdom, and not just an Anglo-Norman province. This caused war to breakout between England and France, and King John was soundly defeated by the French king and lost all of the dynasty's lands in France except Guyenne (1205). Later John conducted another campaign in France to recover his lost French fiefs but was again defeated by King Philip II of France (1214). John, however, had success on other fronts, and suppressed a rebellion in Wales, made an alliance with Scotland, and crushed an uprising in Ireland.
It was said that unlike his tall and handsome brothers, John was short and stocky. He was spoilt in childhood by his parents, and he grew up without morals or any sense of responsibility or duty and was totally self-indulgent. He clowned during solemn ceremonies, was tactless and insulted foreign ambassadors by laughing at their unfamiliar appearance, and never missed a chance at cheating someone.
Anxious for an heir, King John annulled his childless marriage to his wife Avisa (Hadwisa), daughter of William FitzRobert, Duke of Gloucester, and married secondly Isabelle of Angouleme, who was sometimes called "Jezebel" due to her licentious conduct, and by her begot two sons and three daughters. King John also had illegitimate issue by several mistresses, of whom his most favorite was Agatha Ferrers.
A quarrel between King John and the Church erupted over the acceptance of the pope's candidate Stephen Langton as Arch-Bishop of Canterbury (1206), in the on-going "investiture controversy." The issue was over the right of the Church to choose its own bishops; for Pope Alexander II had given that right to William "The Conqueror"; but later popes denied that "the right" had passed to William The Conqueror's successors. King John would not be intimidated by the pope and held firm to his position. Pope Innocent III placed England under interdict suspending all church services (1208), and, when this failed to pressure King John, the pope excommunicated him (1209), which King John, a cynical agnostic, thought was funny, and joked about it. It was generally held in those days that a king once excommunicated ceased to be a Christian and could no longer have any claims on the obedience of his Christian subjects. And, when still King John would not budge, as a last resort the pope declared King John deposed and ordered King Philip II of France to carry out his decree (1212). The pope as "God's Vicar" claimed the right to remove a bad ruler of a country and to give the throne to one more worthy, which never happened or rarely if ever. Philip II of France, whose whole reign was an endeavor to get the better of his Plantagenet cousins, prepared to invade England; and, King John, threatened with invasion, finding no support from the English nobles, was obliged to submit and surprised everyone by striking a deal with the pope, whereby, King John resigned the English kingdom to the Pope and received it back again as a fief of The Holy See, acknowledging the pope's claim to universal monarchy. England thus in 1213 became a papal fief and the Pope became King John's feudal suzerain, and King John had to pay a yearly tribute of 1000 marks to the Pope. The Pope was satisfied for the time being and removed the interdict and excommunication and called-off Philip II of France from invading England, and sent a representative to England who resided in the King's Court and claimed a share of the government of the country. The Pope later withdrew his legate to avert a conflict between England's desire for self-government and the papal claim to overlordship.
The reign of King John grew more and more oppressive as time went on. He raised money by the exploitation of the people and taxed the people to the point of starvation and imprisoned without trial anyone whom he disliked. The nobles came to be increasingly agitated with King John's arbitrary behavior and eventually rose up in rebellion against him to the relief of the people. King John was forced by the rebel nobles to grant the "Magna Charta" ["The Great Charter'] guaranteeing justice and good government which the rebel nobles laid before him at an assembly at Runnymede, near Windsor, in 1215, that he dared not refuse to sign. Here began the evolution of England's unique political institutions. It was the first agreement entered into by an English king and his people. In essence, the charter defined rights granted by the crown to the clergy, the nobles, and the people. It declared: (a) that the Church was free to choose its own bishops; (b) that no money was to be exacted from the feudal tenants [the nobles] without their consent; and (c) that no one was to be punished for a crime except in accordance of due process. Though King John may have granted the Magna Charta, all the powers resigned by him still inhere in the crown, which the nobles were all too aware. As soon as the assembly was over King John raved like a madman and swore to break everyone of the sixty-three articles he had just been forced to grant, and hired foreign mercenaries and began ravaging the country. The nobles fought back and civil war broke out in England between the king and the nobles. King John died in the midst of the civil war in 1216 (age 49) in the seventeenth year of his reign and was buried in Worchester Cathedral before the high-altar, clad in a monk's habit. He left the country in a chaotic condition, with about two-thirds of the English nobles in arms against him. His death automatically removed the grievances which had led to the civil war, and the country was stirred to pity the helpless situation of King John's innocent young son Prince Henry who was a child at the time. The little prince was helped by public opinion which turned in his favor and even the rebel nobles shifted their support over to Henry preferring to have an English prince as king rather than the rival claimant, the French prince Louis "The Lion", who claimed the English throne in right of his wife Blanche, King John's niece, to whom the rebel nobles had previously offered the throne. The year after King John's death, his widow, Queen Isabelle, left her son the boy-king Henry in the custody of the English nobles [who formed a regency council to govern the country] and departed England for her native Angouleme. She soon afterwards married her former lover Hugh X de Lusignan, Count de La Marche, without the consent of the English regency council and consequently lost her pension.
HENRY III succeeded to the throne (age 9) on his father's death in 1216. It was the first time since Edgar II "Aetheling" in 1066 that the English throne was occupied by a child. King Henry III was crowned in Gloucester Cathedral by the Bishop of Winchester, since South-East England and London were under the control of the rebel barons. The nobles had custody of the boy-king and set-up a regency council to govern the country during the minority of the king. The members of the regency council were William Marshal, Gualo "The Legate," and Hubert de Burgh, who all quarreled among themselves, each attempting to rule the country himself through the boy-king. The rebel barons came to terms with the regency council by the next year, ending the civil war. Hubert de Burgh became regent on Marshal's death (1219), and after King Henry came of age in 1223 de Burgh stayed on and governed the country as chancellor. King Henry before long began asserting himself and in 1227 commenced personal rule. He replaced Hubert de Burch as his chief minister with his childhood tutor, Peter de Roches (1232). De Roches was from the French province of Poitou and appointed his fellow Poitevins to offices of government in England initiating a period of misrule. The nobles eventually demanded the expulsion of the Poitevins and King Henry gave in and dismissed des Roches and expelled the Poitevins and was obliged to reinstate Hubert de Burgh.
The marriage of King Henry III to Eleanor of Provence, called "La Belle," was followed by the arrival of the queen's foreign relatives, the Viennenese and the Savoyards, to whom King Henry gave estates, pensions, and government-offices, such as to William de Valence [one of the queen's uncles] who replaced Hubert de Burgh as chancellor. William de Valence soon died and was succeeded by three more of the queen's uncles, namely, Thomas of Savoy [who became chancellor] and his brothers Peter Savoy and Boniface of Bellay. This meant that the government of England was entirely in the hands of foreigners which was resented by the English people. The foreign relatives of the queen became as unpopular as the Poitevins had ever been, and their unpopularity reflected upon the queen. Eleanor of Provence became one of England's most disliked queens. She and her entourage were even once attacked by a mob in London and were pelted by stones and filth. The brood of the queen's relatives was followed later by the king's own half-brothers, the Lusignans, his mother's sons of her second marriage, to whom he also provided with estates, pensions, and government-offices. Their mismanagement, extravagance, and involving England in unsuccessful foreign wars including three disastrous campaigns in France, caused a colossal debt and nearly bankrupted the country, and Henry levied heavy taxes to pay for all of this causing a wave of public resentment against him. The rising criticism of the country's economic woes, abuses in government, and the rule of foreigners, continued to excite the country against the king and caused riots in London which drove the royal family out of the city which signaled the English nobles to rise up in rebellion. The rebel nobles presented a list of grievances to King Henry at Oxford where the royal family had found refuge, and King Henry was obliged to sign a charter which became known as the "Provisions of Oxford" which provided for the country to be governed by a committee of nobles which was to function as a permanent council to advise the king (1258). The committee turned out of office the queen's foreign relatives and deported the king's half-brothers and governed the country in the king's name. Three years later King Henry revoked the "provisions" (1261) and civil war broke out between the king and the nobles. King Henry was defeated in battle at Lewes (1264) by the rebel nobles led by Simon de Montfort, the Earl of Leicester, who took custody of the king and brought King Henry back to London under arrest, while the queen escaped to France accompanied by the Arch-Bishop of Canterbury. The king was held under guard for fifteen months while Montfort ruled the country alone, however, in the king's name. The confinement of the king gave a shock to public opinion and turned the country back to favor the king. Meantime, the marriage of the ambitious Montfort to one of the king's sisters offended the other nobles by his arrogance and caused some of them to secretly negotiate with the captive king. The king's eldest son Prince Edward escaped confinement and rallied supporters and disaffected nobles came over to his side and they all marched to liberate the king. Montfort was killed in battle at Evesham (1265) and the defeat of the rebel nobles gave authority back to the king. King Henry, once back in power, revoked the reforms he had granted under duress by the rebel barons, though pledged to abide by the "Magna Charta." The civil war had affected King Henry so much that after it was over he left the government of the country to his ministers, and spent his remaining years indulging his interests in artistic, scholarly, and religious pursuits.
Though Henry III may have been a bad king, weak, incompetent, and inept; he was not a bad man. He was noted for his piety, his concern for his subjects and their problems, and his generosity. He was a generous benefactor and gave money to a variety of charities, such as hospitals, homeless shelters, and public kitchens. He was a man of integrity, however, he was sometimes fickle, contrary, and "prone to petulance." Henry was virtuous, sensitive, and artistic, and was a faithful husband to his wife, which was rare in those days. Henry fathered six sons and three daughters, of whom only two sons and two daughters survived childhood. King Henry III died in 1272 (age 65) in the fifty-sixth year of his reign and was buried in Westminster Abbey, which he had renovated to its present appearance.
EDWARD I [sometimes IV], called "LONG-SHANKS" for his height [as he was head and shoulders above everyone else], and called "THE HAMMER" for his relentless attacks against his country's enemies, succeeded to the throne (age 33) on his father's death in 1272, however, he was in the Middle East fighting in the Seventh Crusade at the time and did not reach home for two years during which period his mother Queen Eleanor governed the country as regent in his absence. Edward was described by his contemporaries as tall, handsome, and an eloquent speaker; as a great soldier, fearless, courageous, and brave; as well as an able administrator and a wise statesman. He was an energetic and forceful ruler, bold and brutal, and could be a bully at times. Abroad, Edward waged war with France seeking to recover the dynasty's former French estates; and, at home, after pacifying unrest in England, suppressed a rebellion in Wales and another in Scotland which he occupied with English troops. Edward "Long-Shanks" was one of England's great medieval kings.
England under King Edward "The First" ["From The Conquest"] saw a great deal of changes. Edward initiated a series of reforms ending the political effects of feudalism, codified much of the existing laws for which he was called "The English Justinian," and laid the foundations of parliamentary government. To end quarrels over land ownership writs of "Quo Warranto" were issued which recorded who owned what properties. King Edward dealt with crime by the creation of the office of justice-of-the-peace appointing them from the gentry [the lower nobility] with police and judicial authority which became the foundation of English local administration; and he gave the localities the responsibility of policing their own communities. King Edward reorganized the law-courts, that is, he separated and defined the jurisdictions of the various courts. He also began the practice of collecting and recording judicial cases in "Yearbooks," for up until then all judicial decisions had been processed orally, thus, English "common law" began to develop. King Edward, early influenced as a young prince by Montfort's ideas, encouraged the growth of "the Greek experiment," i.e., "democracy," in England during his reign. He began regularly calling the "great council" ["magnum concilium"], an advisory body to the king, which grew out of the "King's Court" ["curia regis"], to meet as a forum for redressing grievances, which included representatives of the boroughs or communities [that is, the "commons"]. The convocation of the "great council" or "parliament" at regular intervals begun by King Edward [which he used to keep in touch with the country] caused the assembly to develop a corporate existence of its own and parliament eventually came to be itself an institution of state. The "Model Parliament" of 1295, although not the first parliament to meet, marks the point at which parliament became a feature of government separate from the "King's Court" and establishes the pattern for later parliaments. Parliament began to initiate legislation once it was granted the privilege to petition the king, and all petitions approved by the king became laws just as if they were themselves royal pronouncements. King Edward probably had no idea of how far-reaching the effect of the precedents he set was to be on the political development of England.
Wales was annexed to England by King Edward in 1284. The last native Prince of Wales, Llywelyn III "The Last" ["Yr Ail"], crowned by King Henry III of England in 1267, rebelled against Edward I in 1276 by refusing homage to him as his suzerain, and King Edward responded by two campaigns which led to the annexation of the country. Prince Llywelyn III was defeated by King Edward in battle in Builth in 1282 and fled the battlefield but was ambushed and killed at Irfon Bridge, near Builth Wells, when he came upon an English squad of soldiers led by its captain, Stephen de Francton, who had no idea whom he had slain. Welsh resistance was crushed by a second campaign the next year, and Wales came under English rule. Prince Llywelyn "The Last" was survived by an only child, a daughter, Gwenllian, who was shut up in a convent by King Edward and later died a nun. It is recorded somewhere that Llywelyn "The Last" also had an illegitimate daughter, through whom the English Royal House may trace a descent-line on its royal family-tree. Descent from the Welsh royal house may be traced to later English kings through Llywelyn's aunts [father's sisters], who were co-heiresses of the old Welsh royal house. Edward, after Llywelyn's death, kept his promise to the Welsh people to give them a prince who was born in Wales and could not speak a word of English and presented the Welsh people with his infant son Edward as their new prince, who had been born at Caernarvon Castle in Wales while King Edward was campaigning in the country, and later on his coming of age was formally crowned Prince of Wales by his father (1301), thus, annexing the Welsh Crown to the English Monarchy, and ever since the Welsh Crown has traditionally been conferred by the English monarchs usually upon their heirs. It was at this time that King Edward seized the royal Welsh regalia, which included the crown of King Arthur, which actually was Carausius' Crown [called "Brutus' Crown"], inherited by Constantine The Great from his mother, the British heiress, "Saint" Helena, which was added to the imperial regalia when the British King Constantine became Roman Emperor; but later taken from the imperial collection and returned to Britain by Pope Gelasius along with his "Epistle" to the Britons, instructing them to let God decide who would be king. It was destroyed by Cromwell during the period of the English republic [1650s].
Scotland was in anarchy following the death of the Scottish queen, Margaret, called "Maid of Norway," a young girl, only eight years old, who was betrothed to marry King Edward's son, the Prince of Wales [future Edward II]. The early death of the girl-queen was followed by an interregnum in Scotland during which the succession was in dispute among thirteen claimants of whom only three could be regarded as serious candidates, who were: John Balliol, the Lord of Galloway; Robert Bruce, the Lord of Annandale; and, John Hastings, the Lord of Abergavenny; whose families had taken wives from the old Scottish royal house. King Edward set out on an expedition to pacify Scotland but his wife Eleanor of Castile-Leon, who accompanied her husband on all of his campaigns, died on the march in Nottinghamshire; and King Edward called-off the campaign to accompany her body back to London. King Edward was inconsolable on the death of his queen. In grief Edward erected "Eleanor Crosses," a cross at each place where the cortege carrying the queen's body rested overnight on its journey back to London. There were thirteen of these crosses built. Meantime, in Scotland, it was finally agreed by the claimants to leave the settlement of the disputed Scottish succession to King Edward who chose the unpopular John Balliol since he had the best claim, but hardly had Balliol been crowned when in a move to gain popularity he renounced his allegiance to King Edward as his suzerain to which King Edward responded by invading Scotland against him. In 1296 Balliol was defeated in battle and captured and compelled to abdicate in Edward's favor, after which King Edward occupied the country and claimed the Scottish Crown for himself as per his descent from Scottish royalty through an ancestress. Edward received the homage of the Scottish nobles and was recognized by them as their king, however, he was aggravated by resistance led by the devious Scottish rogue William Wallace. The rabble-rouser Wallace gained a following and conducted a lengthy guerrilla campaign against the English that caught the imagination of that generation of the Scottish people, which oddly turned him into a folk-hero. He was eventually captured, sent to London, tried for treason, and executed; and his head was stuck on a pole. The movie "Brave-Heart" about Wallace is one of the many examples of the distortion of history by the modern entertainment-industry in its very liberal use of "poetic license" in its retelling of the story and has very little if any historical value.
France continued to cause King Edward problems, and war erupted in 1294 against the French King Philip IV who declared England's French possessions forfeited to the French Crown. King Edward was strained to pay for his expeditions to France, which virtually bankrupted the country. The feudal revenues due to the crown by the nobles had come to be inadequate to run the country, and King Edward sought the money he needed from the new merchant class. His need for money awakened the political awareness of parliament which demanded the cessation of royal exactions as a means of raising revenue. His debts weakened the royal position, an unfortunate legacy the monarchy failed to overcome. King Edward was out of money by 1299 and was obliged to reach a settlement with the French king, and a peace-treaty was signed in 1303.
Meantime, Robert Bruce, a claimant to the Scottish Crown, ten years after he had sworn fealty to King Edward (1296) broke his oath and began fomenting unrest in Scotland and took over after Wallace as the leader of the Scottish resistance against the English occupation of the country and continued the struggle against unification (1306). King Edward set out for Scotland against Bruce but died on the march in 1307 (age 68) in the thirty-fifth year of his reign. He was survived by one son and four daughters of his first wife; and by two sons and another daughter by his second wife, Margaret of France, whom he married nine years after Queen Eleanor's death. King Edward I "Long-Shanks" was buried in Westminster Abbey.
EDWARD II succeeded to the throne in 1307 (age 23) on his father's death. He was his father's only surviving son of his first wife. Edward grew up a lonely, introverted youth who developed a passion for a variety of "unsuitable" pursuits for a person of his station, which was the thinking of his time, such as carpentry, thatching, and masonry. Edward was a weak king, incompetent, and totally unsuitable for his high office. He was an immediate disappointment to the nation. His reign is noted for the sharp decline in the power and prestige of the monarchy, and the resulting instability and political chaos in the country. The country also suffered from years of drought, terrible harvests, and famine during his reign. King Edward took up arms in an attempt to complete his father's campaign in Scotland and suffered an ignominious defeat in battle at Bannockburn at the hands of Robert Bruce who thus secured Scottish independence. King Edward dismissed his father's chancellor, the Earl of Pembroke, and appointed Piers (Peter) Gaveston, a favorite from the French province of Gascogne, as his chancellor. Edward's infatuation with Gaveston provoked a government crisis, and the nobles demanded Gaveston's resignation, but King Edward refused, and Gaveston was murdered in a conspiracy of the nobles led by the king's cousin, Thomas, the Earl of Lancaster, who seized power and governed the country as chancellor in association with parliament. Parliament set up a committee of "Lords Ordainers" which placed restrictions on the king. The quarrels of the Earl of Lancaster and certain nobles in parliament encouraged King Edward and his friends, the Dispensers [father and son], to resort to force, and the rebel nobles were defeated in battle by Hugh Le Despenser, which placed the king back in authority. The Earl of Lancaster was executed and Hugh Le Despenser took his place as the new chancellor. King Edward's partiality for Hugh Le Despenser ["The Elder"] and his son Hugh "The Younger" caused a rift between King Edward and his neglected queen Isabelle of France. Isabelle was the mother of King Edward's two sons and three daughters. King Edward also had an illegitimate son of an onetime encounter. Queen Isabelle detested her husband, King Edward, a contemptible scamp, and formed a liaison with Roger Mortimer, the Earl of March, a handsome nobleman, one of her husband's disaffected barons. The scandal of the queen and Mortimer rocked the country. Mortimer was banished by King Edward, and Queen Isabelle left for France with her children and met up with Mortimer in Paris. They procured troops from the Count of Hainault and with Italian bankers supplying the funds the queen and Mortimer landed in England and marched on London. The flow of events moved swiftly. King Edward was deserted by his ministers and fled London along with the Despensers. The queen and her lover swept all before them, and caught up with the Despensers while they were attempting to flee the country, and executed them; and pursued, overtook, and captured the king, who surrendered to his wife. King Edward II was deposed by an illegally convened "parliament" in 1327 [20 Jan.] in the twentieth year of his reign, and his son Prince Edward, a minor, was set on the throne as king. Parliament appointed as regent the king's cousin, Henry of Lancaster [the brother of Thomas, the late chancellor], however, the queen had him arrested and dismissed parliament and took charge of the government herself as regent along with her paramour Roger Mortimer. The ex-king Edward II (age 43) was imprisoned in a cell in Berkeley Castle where he languished for eight months until an abortive attempt to free him alarmed the queen and she had him brutally murdered by his jailors [21 Sep.]. His murder brought a reaction of public revulsion against the queen who was then living in open adultery with Mortimer. King Edward II was buried in Gloucester Cathedral. His tomb was the center of a popular cult for several centuries.
EDWARD III succeeded to the throne (age 14) on the deposition of his father in 1327. He was a minor and his mother Queen Isabelle ruled the country as regent for the first three years of his reign. Queen Isabelle, called the "She-Wolf of France," during her regency, claimed the French throne for her son the boy-king Edward on the death of her childless brother King Charles IV of France. The majority of the French jurists, however, asserted that only males could transmit the right to the French Throne as per according to the "Salic Law," and the Twelve Peers of France [who decided such matters] agreed with the jurists and chose Philip of Valois [a cousin of the late French king] to succeed Charles IV passing over Edward of England [the late French king's nephew], a closer relative. The "Salic Law," whereby women can neither reign nor transmit any rights to their children, meant that the Capetians, who had left only daughters, were succeeded on the French throne by the House of Valois, a junior line of the French royal house, by-passing nearer relatives of the main-line Capetians through female-links. The queen could not prevent the election of Philip of Valois and the failure of her foreign policy caused her to loose support at home. The despotic rule of the queen intensified the public's dissatisfaction with the regency and the young king Edward suddenly found friends all around him, who, with their help on his coming of age, arrested the queen and Mortimer in a palace coup and took charge of the government himself. Mortimer was executed but the queen was spared a public disgrace and was obliged to retire from public life. She was confined to Castle Rising [Norfolk], where she remained in comfortable seclusion for the last twenty-eight years of her life.
Most of King Edward's reign was spent attempting to establish his claim to the French throne. King Edward contested the election of Philip of Valois and took up arms to enforce his claim which began the series of battles known as the "Hundred Years' War." It was not fought continuously but fighting was sporadic and truces were frequent over a period of a hundred years. The war was fought to determine if the French Crown was to be allowed to pass through an heiress or through males only. Edward III of England styled himself as King Edouard I of France, and English kings styled themselves also as Kings of France for nearly 500 years until the reign of George III who dropped the title when France became a republic. King Edward moved from victory to victory and defeated the French in a naval battle at Sluys (1340) followed by land battles at Crecy (1346) and Poitiers (1356) where King John II of France was himself captured. The French king John II was brought back to England and paraded through the streets of London and kept a prisoner in the Tower of London until his death. The son of the French king, the Dauphin, acted as regent during his father's incarceration, and became King Charles V of France on his father's death (1364). Edward's string of victories won him fame as a great soldier-king. The Hundred Years' War awakened English nationalism and gave rise to a national consciousness in England which was drunk with the glory of Edward's successes; while French cultural influences in England suffered a sharp decline English emerged as the common language in England during the Hundred Years' War for the first time since the Norman Conquest as the descendants of the Normans in England came to think of themselves as Englishmen, and by the close of the war the French language had died out in England almost completely, such that even the French romances needed to be translated into English.
It was during this period that Edward tried to recreate the atmosphere of King Arthur's Camelot in his court. His court became more than an administrative center and was the scene of masques, feasts, and glittering balls. It was also a place of artistry, theatre, and dance, due partly to his queen Philippa of Holland who enjoyed the company of artists, writers, and musicians. Tournaments were held which featured jousting and other medieval sports. King Edward and his court came to be famous all over Europe. King Edward was even elected Holy Roman Emperor in 1346, but declined the Throne of Europe so that England would not be incorporated into the European union. King Edward was nationalist in his politics and sought to recreate King Arthur's Britain. He had a Round Table built as a replica of King Arthur's famous table, and founded [or revived] the "Order of the Garter" in emulation of King Arthur's knights (1348). The idea for the chivalric order reputedly came by King Edward's act of gallantry while dancing at a palace ball with the Countess of Salisbury [his mistress] whose garter slipped and King Edward picked it up and handed it back to her, however, modern scholars have cast doubt on the tradition since the story can not be found earlier than the sixteenth century, and the order may have actually been inspired by the legend of Sir Gawayne and The Green Knight and the garter used to symbolize Gawayne's neckerchief which was a damsel's garter its lady wearer had given to Gawayne for good luck. The order was confined to the monarch as Grand-Master, the crown-prince, and twenty-four knights. Its symbol was, and still is, a blue garter embroidered with the order's motto in gold letters, worn below the left knee. The motto of the order is "honi soit qui may y pense," meaning, "evil be to him who thinks evil." The patron saint of the order is Saint George, who is also England's patron saint, whose legend exemplifies the chivalric code of conduct and manners. The legend of St. George was made into a royal ideology that became a national cult.
The whole atmosphere of King Edward's reign suddenly changed as the Black Plague [which had decimated the population of Europe] reached England and killed one-third of the nation's population. The whole organization of labor was thrown out of gear. There was a breakdown of law and order, and riots became widespread throughout the country. England and France observed a truce during this period of their common suffering from plague, famine, and social strife, and not until a failure to turn the truce into peace did King Edward renew the war with France. France, meanwhile, had plunged into severe internal struggles after the capture of its king, yet resistance against the English continued to be made. The war dragged on due to constant tensions in England between the centralizing monarchy [chancery bureaucracy] and the feudal nobility [parliament] which did not permit King Edward to conduct a determined foreign policy. The shortage of funds made concessions by King Edward to parliament necessary which further undermined the prosecution of the war, and parliament was able to wrestle from the crown some of its powers.
It was during King Edward's reign that the practice of the monarch governing with parliament began, which established the role of parliament in the country's constitution. He called no less than forty-eight parliaments during his reign. The institution of parliament grew in importance during King Edward's reign and became an aspect of the country‘s political life. The institution of parliament itself was developing in the meantime. It became common practice during King Edward's reign for the representatives of the "communities," that is, the "commons," to meet separately from the nobles, that is, the "lords," or "peers." The "commons" originally had been called to attend the king's court to counterbalance the nobles and the clergy, but under King Edward the "commons" developed an identity of their own.
England's vassalage to the Pope came to an end during Edward's reign. The demands of the Pope for the payment of the annual 1000 marks in acknowledgment of the suzerainty of the Holy See at Rome roused the English people to anger at which the Pope shrank back and dropped his demands. Nevertheless, anti-clericalism grew in England as a result, and the resentment of the English people focused on the Pope as the foreign responsible figure. Edward by statute rejected the Pope's authority in England (1365), and the claim of papal overlordship of England passed away.
A popular monarch, Edward III was tall, handsome, and strong. He was athletic and excelled in all the martial arts of his time. His eldest son, Edward, the Prince of Wales, called "The Black Prince" for the color of his armor, was one of the heroes of the Hundred Years' War. He came to be regarded as the model of chivalry and was the subject of medieval romance. The second-son of King Edward, William, died an infant. His third-son was Lionel of Antwerp, the Duke of Clarence. His fourth son was John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster; and, his fifth son was Edmund of Langley, the Duke of York. And, his youngest son was Thomas of Woodstock, the Duke of Gloucester. His sons each produced major descent-lines of the royal house. After the death of Queen Philippa, King Edward took up with a mistress, Alice Perrers, who made the remaining years of his life miserable. For a while she was the dominant personality in his court involving herself in political matters. The affair scandalized public opinion. She was impeached by parliament which as a result of her activities gained the right to investigate abuses and charge offenders. Meantime, King Edward had become senile in his old age. His health turned for the worst and King Edward became ill in 1375. His eldest son Edward, the Prince of Wales, served as regent during his father's illness until his own death in 1376 (age 46), after which the oldest surviving brother John of Gaunt became regent for his old father. King Edward III suffered a stroke and died in 1377 (age 65) in the fiftieth year of his reign, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.
RICHARD II, one of the most tragic of England's kings, succeeded to the throne (age 10), a minor, on his grandfather's death in 1377. His father, Edward, the Prince of Wales [known as "The Black Prince"], had died just the year before; and, his uncle, John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster, became regent on the death of the Prince of Wales and had been regent the last year of King Edward III's reign. He stayed on as regent during the early years of King Richard's minority. The boy-king Richard, a sad and lonely child, was more the scholar than the soldier his father was. His reign began with great promise but things quickly went from bad to worst and it ended in disaster and ruin. Richard during his minority was controlled by his unscrupulous uncles, the dukes of Lancaster, York, and Gloucester, who were continually vying for power. John of Gaunt was unpopular and detested by the people. His policies as regent caused the "Peasants' Revolt" of 1381 when 100,000 rioting peasants occupied London for three weeks, ransacking, burning, and looting, and murdering government officials, lawyers, and foreign merchants. The peasants demanded reform and one aim of their uprising was to free the boy-king from "evil councilors." Still a boy, the young king Richard (age 14), accompanied by only a few retainers, in an act of bravely rode out to face the peasants and parleyed with their leader Wat Tyler, and at the king's word the peasants all dispersed and went back to their homes. King Richard sympathized with the peasants and had promised them reform, but a frenzied reaction against reform took place in parliament and the regency initiated terrible measures of repression making the plight of the peasants even worst which caused the people to loose faith in their new king. Later, while John of Gaunt was out of the country and another of the king's uncles, Thomas of Woodstock, the Duke of Gloucester, was regent, King Richard asserted himself and dismissed his uncle and replaced him in office with Robert de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, a favorite. Prince Thomas however mustered an army and defeated de Vere in battle. Robert de Vere fled the country, and Prince Thomas again took charge of the government. Prince Thomas established a five man board of "appellant" lords to govern the country as regents. They were: (1) Thomas [himself]; (2) Richard Fitz-Alan, the Earl of Arundel; (3) Thomas de Beauchamp, the Earl of Warwick; (4) Thomas Mowbray, the Duke of Norfolk; and (5) Henry of Bolingbroke, the Earl of Hereford [John of Gaunt's son]. Under their control the so-called "merciless parliament" of 1388 ordered the execution of eight of the king's friends whom they did not like and the banishment of others. Simon Burley, who had been Richard's childhood tutor, was one of the victims of the appellant-lords. Richard pleaded in vain for Burley's life but his tears were scorned by the regents. The five man appellant-board of regents was completely contemptuous of the boy-king and even threatened him with deposition unless he did as he was told and keep silent. King Richard bided his time until his coming of age at what time he dismissed the appellant-lords and began personal rule (1389). His actions were welcomed by the whole country, however, when King Richard took vengeance against the five appellant-lords it turned public opinion against him. Thomas of Woodstock, the Duke of Gloucester, was arrested and tried and was sentenced to life in prison, but was murdered while in custody. Richard Fitz-Alan, the Earl of Arundel, was tried, sentenced to death, and executed in a single day. Thomas de Beauchamp, the Earl of Warwick obtained a pardon. Thomas Mowbray, the Duke of Norfolk, and Henry of Bolingbroke, the Earl of Hereford, were both banished, one for life and the other for ten years. Now free of the appellant-lords, King Richard sought to do away with parliamentary government and restore royal autocracy. Though, constitutionally, he was within his rights to do so, yet it turned the people against him.
The marriage of King Richard II to Anne of Bohemia, the love of his life, was childless. He was passionately in love with her, and her early death drove Richard insane with grief. He became melancholic and a dramatic change took place in his personality. His rule became despotic which planted the seeds of the country's later rebellion against him. In the absence of his own issue King Richard acknowledged the Earl of March, Roger Mortimer, as his heir; for, according to the principle of primogeniture which regulates the succession to the English Monarchy, he was the next in line to the throne as the son of King Richard's cousin Princess Philippa [only child and daughter of Lionel of Antwerp, the Duke of Clarence, the king's late uncle], the wife of Edmund Mortimer, an English noble. Though Mortimer's claim was recognized, it was unlikely to remain uncontested by Richard's uncles, who each had an eye on the eventual succession. Here, on the failure of the Clarence-line, the "Beauforts," the family descended from John of Gaunt's illegitimate issue, were legitimated as a precaution in the event of the failure of the Lancaster-line.
England during King Richard's reign suffered a series of setbacks in France in the continuation of the Hundred Years' War. King Richard saw the need for peace and to restore the country's economy, and made a truce with France which was ratified by his marriage to the French princess Isabelle, the daughter of the King of France. She was more like a sister to him than a wife. Their marriage was also childless. After settling affairs with France, King Richard turned his attention to Ireland which was giving him trouble. Roger Mortimer, whom Richard had appointed as Governor of Ireland, was killed in a rebellion of the Irish nobles; and with the death of the acknowledged heir to the throne King Richard set out to avenge his death and took an army to Ireland and campaigned against the rebel Irish nobles. Henry of Bolingbroke returned to England while King Richard was campaigning in Ireland and raised a rebellion. He had returned from exile accompanied by only a few friends but others flocked to him and their numbers swelled to 60,000 and soon the entire country was in rebellion having had enough of King Richard's autocratic rule. The king's uncle, Edmund of Langley, the Duke of York, whom Richard had left in charge as regent during his absence, also joined the rebellion. King Richard on hearing the news returned to England however on arriving back his troops deserted him; and in a single day the 30,000 troops he had brought back with him dwindled to only 6000 men and even those dispersed within a few days. King Richard was caught in a web of treachery and was betrayed and arrested by his own officers who turned him over to the rebels under Henry of Bolingbroke, who brought the king back to London a prisoner. King Richard was confined under arrest in the Tower of London while parliament debated on what to do with him, and one month later under pressure from parliament Richard was compelled to abdicate, Year 1399, ending his reign of twenty-two years. This was confirmed the next day by act of parliament which formally deposed Richard on the charge of misgovernment, and parliament offered the throne to his cousin Henry of Bolingbroke. Prince Henry, however, was not the legal heir for that was Edmund Mortimer, [the king's cousin's son] the great-grandson of Lionel of Antwerp, the Duke of Clarence [the king's late uncle], who was but a child at the time, and since everyone had had enough of boy-kings for a while parliament set aside the regular succession in favor of a junior-line of the royal house, and Edmund Mortimer and his sister Anne were placed under arrest and held prisoners in the Tower of London by Henry of Bolingbroke who usurped the throne and reigned as King Henry IV. Richard II, the ex-king, was imprisoned in Pontefract Castle and plots to restore him forced the new king Henry IV to have him murdered by his jailors early Year 1400 [14 Feb.] (age 34). Richard II was buried first in King's Langley Church, Hertfordshire, but was removed to Westminster Abbey in 1413.
HENRY IV, upon deposing his cousin King Richard II, usurped the throne in 1399 (age 33) in prejudice of the legal heir, Edmund Mortimer, who was next in the line of succession according to the principle of primogeniture, whom King Henry kept locked up in the Tower of London. Henry IV was officially elected king by a special act of parliament, but since parliament was the creation of the king the question arose of how it could constitutionally have any role in king-making. Henry IV was the first English monarch of the House of Lancaster which was a branch of the descendants of King Edward III which sprang from John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster. The government of King Henry IV was called "the Lancastrian Experiment" in which the king and parliament became joint rulers of the realm, for King Henry held the throne by act of parliament and not by hereditary right. King Henry had no illusions about his position as an usurper and was aware that he could not have any claim to obedience and was entirely dependent on the goodwill of parliament having stolen the throne from a legal and anointed king; and when parliament demanded more powers King Henry had no choice but to yield and give parliament whatever it asked for. The kings of the House of Lancaster were restricted in their freedom to govern due to the manner of the dynasty's accession, and it was not until the restoration of the rightful line to the throne about a century later that English kings were again in full possession of the customary powers of the crown.
Though Henry had been well liked as a prince he was unpopular as king. He was short and stocky, lacked dignity, and was entirely uninspiring. Henry was however an able general and statesman and a strong ruler. He exchanged ambassadors with many heads of state, including the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II, the Emperor of Abyssinia [Ethiopia], and even the Tartar King Tamerlane.
His first wife Mary de Bohun, daughter and co-heiress of the Earl of Hereford, died before Henry became king. She gave Henry issue of five sons and two daughters. Their firstborn, a son, died soon after birth. And, Henry did not have any children of his second wife, Joan of Navarre, the widow of Duke John V of Brittany, by whom she was the mother of four sons and five daughters. Queen Joan was on good relations with her step-children. King Henry had one illegitimate son. The resistance to King Henry IV by the supporters of the rightful heir, the assertive stance made by parliament, and his persecution of religious nonconformists, all together made for a turbulent reign. Shakespeare later described his reign as "a scrambling and unquiet time."
There was an uprising in favor of the legal heir which was squelched by King Henry, and many who had voiced their support for the rightful heir were arrested and some were executed including Richard Scrope, the Arch-Bishop of York, a major political blunder for which King Henry was regarded as an impious monster. The uncertainty of King Henry's title provided justification for the insurrections against him. Henry had to deal with rebellions in Northern England, Wales, and Scotland, that is, those of the northern English baronage under Henry Percy [called "Hotspur"], Earl of Northumberland; the Welsh anti-king Owain Glyndwr; and, the powerful Scottish earl Archibald Douglas; which were with difficulty at length put down; while in the meantime the Welsh made raids in the west, the Scots made incursions in the north, and the French plundered England's southern coasts, which kept King Henry busy repelling their attacks in addition to everything else.
OWAIN GYLNDWR (GLENDOWER) (1354-1416) was the last native Welsh prince to claim the title "Prince of Wales." After the murder of the Welsh prince Owain ap Thomas in 1378, whose pretensions to the Welsh throne in 1372 had caused an upsurge of Welsh nationalism, Owain Glyndwr became the primary contender to the Welsh crown. In 1400 he gathered together his supporters with the intent to liberate Wales from English rule. His supporters declared him "Prince of Wales" in 1400 [16 Sept.]. He proposed joint Welsh, Scottish, and Irish rebellions against their English Master in 1402. Owain Gylndwr overwhelmed an English levy in 1402 and captured its commander, Edmund Mortimer, who joined their rebellion against the English King Henry IV, whom they regarded as an usurper. In 1403 Owain Glyndwr established Harlech Castle as his royal residence. He summoned a parliament at Machynlleth in 1404, and summoned a second parliament in 1405. The year 1405 was the "golden era" of his short-lived reign and the revived Welsh principate. In 1405 the "Tripartite Indenture" was a pact signed by Owain Glyndwr of Wales, Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, and Edmund Mortimer [uncle of the Earl of March] to divide Britain among them into thirds. Owain Glyndwr concluded a treaty with France in 1405, and his army was reinforced with French troops. He took advantage of the papal schism, and agreed to recognized the French-backed pope at Avignon in exchange for recognition of an independent Welsh church with its metropolitan see at Saint David's. Owain Glyndwr 's power began to ebb in 1406, and he suffered several military defeats. In 1407 the English took the offensive; and, by 1408 had reoccupied Wales. In 1408 Harlech Castle, the royal Welsh residence, fell to the English. The wife of Owain Glyndwr, Margaret Hanmer, and their children were taken prisoners, but Owain Glyndwr escaped and hid out and conducted a guerrilla war with the English, years 1409, 1410, and 1411, with little success. In 1410 he staged one last large-scale attack against the English but was defeated, and his army scattered everywhere. He became a fugitive and spent his last years hiding out in private homes all over the Welsh countryside. He was never betrayed by the Welsh even though many people knew where he was. Tradition says he spent his last days in the home of his daughter, Alice Scudamore, at Monnington Straddel, a secluded manor near Vowchurch in the Golden Valley of Herefordshire, and there died either late 1415 or early 1416. His grave is unknown, and he passed into legend like his predecessor Arthur as a great nationalistic hero.
The persecution of the Lollards by King Henry IV was a blot on his reign. "Lollard" ["idle babbler," i.e., "speaking in tongues"] was the nickname of scorn with which the orthodox church chose to insult the followers of the late John Wycliffe who struggled against the secularization of the Church. King Henry supported the main-line of contemporary religious thinking and enacted a statute which called for "heretics" [referring to the Lollards] to be handed over to secular authorities to be burned at the stake. The persecution resulted in the end of religious freedom in England during his reign and also at the sametime all trace of intellectual life disappeared in the country.
In 1406 King Henry IV was stricken with leprosy which was regarded by many as divine chastisement for his misdeeds. Two years later in 1408 King Henry became gravely ill and suffered a stroke. King Henry's son and heir Prince Henry, called "Hal," the Prince of Wales, played a greater role in the government due to his father's illness, and when his father was confined to his bed in 1410 the prince took over as regent and ruled the country for a year along with his half-uncles Henry Beaufort and Thomas Beaufort, however, with growing tension between father and son, the king finally roused himself from his sickbed in 1411 and reasserted himself over his son and again took up the rule. King Henry's health continued to deteriorate and his last year was miserable. He had a seizure while praying at the shrine of Edward "The Confessor" in Westminster Abbey and was carried into the "Jerusalem Chamber" where he died a shadow of his former self in 1413 (age 47) in the thirteenth year of his reign. He was buried in Canterbury Cathedral. There is a story that while his body was being transported on the royal barge a fierce storm arose in the vicinity of Faversham which caused the superstitious crew to throw the corpse overboard, and it was later fished out and put back into its coffin.
HENRY V, one of England's greatest kings, succeeded to the throne (age 25) on his father's death in 1413. Henry while he was Prince of Wales was a wild out-going reveler, dissolute, and intemperate, but following his succession the responsibilities of the crown sobered him and he now gave all of his energies to his new duties. King Henry first had to deal with a plot to place the Earl of March, the rightful heir, on the throne, but it was foiled and the conspirators were executed, and the Earl of March was locked-up in the Tower of London. King Henry V was the last great soldier-king of the medieval era. He renewed hostilities with France after an uneasy truce that had held since 1396 and with only 8000 men defeated the French Army of 50,000 and gained a sensational victory in the famed Battle of Agincourt in 1415 in which most of the French nobles were captured and taken back to England and paraded through the streets of London in a Roman-style "triumph." King Henry's triumphal return to London was wildly celebrated throughout the country. His victories hushed the last murmurs of support for the Earl of March, and the Lancasters were finally accepted by the English people. King Henry returned to France in 1418 on a second campaign and systematically took one city after another, and conquered the country with considerable barbarity terrorizing its people and made a triumphal entry into Paris in 1419. King Henry V took custody of the French king Charles VI, called "The Mad," and negotiated the terms for peace with King Charles VI's queen Isabeau of Bavaria, who was regent for her husband who was insane. King Henry's claim to the former French possessions of the English kings was baseless, for the parliamentary title by which the House of Lancaster held England could give it no right in France, and the strict law of hereditary could only be pleaded by the Earl of March, the rightful heir; yet King Henry by his astute diplomatic skills transformed himself from a foreign conqueror into the legal heir to the French throne by the terms of the Treaty of Troyes, whereby Henry married King Charles VI's daughter, Catherine, and became his adoptive heir and regent during his lifetime, and was to succeed him on his death in right of his wife to the exclusion of the French king's retarded son, Charles, the "Dauphin," who was debarred from the succession. The "Estates-General" [French National Assembly] was solemnly convened in 1420 and the provisions of the treaty were confirmed by the assembly, and Henry V was formally recognized as King Charles VI's legal heir. Henry returned to England with his new bride, who bore him a son, Henry, in 1421. In 1422 King Henry returned to France and spent the next few months wiping-out the last remaining pockets of resistance. At the zenith of his career King Henry suddenly contracted a fever while in France and died unexpectedly within a few days. King Henry V died in 1422 (age 35) in the ninth year of his reign. He was survived by his queen Catherine of France and their son, an only child, Prince Henry. His widow, Queen Catherine, after only eighteen months of marriage, who had returned to France to be with her husband and visit her parents, accompanied King Henry's body back to England, to a nation stunned and in shock. Thousands lined the streets of London and watched his funeral procession as the royal cortege carrying the late king's body made its way to Westminster Abbey where Henry V was buried in solemn ceremony of state.
HENRY VI was a minor (age nine months) on his succession to the English throne on his father's death in 1422. His grandfather King Charles VI of France died just two months later and the infant-king Henry VI of England succeeded to the French throne as Henri II of France. Henry was crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey in London one month before his eighth birthday in 1429, and two years later in 1431 at age ten was crowned King of France in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Henry VI was the only English monarch to be crowned separately in France as King of France. The queen-mother, Catherine of France, busied herself with the upbringing of the young king, while the king's uncle [father's brother], Humphrey, the Duke of Gloucester, ruled England as regent, and, another uncle, John, the Duke of Bedford, ruled France as regent. Catherine, the queen-mother, six years after her husband's death, took up with a handsome Welsh squire, Owain Tudor, by whom she had three more sons and a daughter. The affair became public and turned the country against her, and sparked a power struggle within the government. Queen Catherine was placed under arrest. Her son the boy-king Henry VI was taken from her and placed under the supervision of Richard Beauchamp, the Earl of Warwick; and her children fathered by Owain Tudor were also taken from her and given to others to raise. Owain Tudor was incarcerated in Newgate Prison, and Queen Catherine was forced into a convent at Bermondsey Abbey where her spirit soon broke and she fell into a deep depression and died shortly after.
The boy-king Henry VI grew up in the following years amidst the intrigue and power struggles that usually accompanies the minority of a king. For the first fifteen years of his reign the government of the realm was in the hands of his quarrelsome uncles and cousins. He came of age in 1437 and began personal rule. King Henry VI is one of the saddest figures in English History. He was well-meaning, courteous, and honest, but simple-minded and an inept ruler. He was a gentle, saintly, and humble person. He married the intelligent, tempestuous, and energetic Margaret of Anjou, the daughter of Rene of Anjou [who lost Naples to King Alfonso V of Aragon], the titular King of Naples and Sicily, Hungary, and Jerusalem, and Grand-Master of the Knighthood of the Priory of Zion. She was as strong as her husband was weak. Margaret, after several years of childless marriage, finally conceived and gave birth to a long hoped for son, Prince Edward. The birth of this son temporarily ceased the rivalry of Richard of York whom many considered to be the rightful heir to the throne. Richard of York was the son of Anne Mortimer, the heiress of the Clarence-line [the sister of the earlier claimant the Earl of March who was childless], and her husband, [another] Richard, a Plantagenet prince. The crown would naturally devolve upon Richard of York on the extinction of the House of Lancaster, and of the direct-line of that house Henry VI was the sole survivor until the birth of his son. The claim of Richard of York was that of hereditary right over the Lancastrian claim of long and undisturbed possession of the throne by act of parliament. King Henry VI replied to Richard of York's claim, saying: "my father was king, and his father was before him; how then can you say I have no right to be king?." Richard of York, however, maintained that the act of parliament which had settled the crown in the House of Lancaster could not destroy his hereditary claim for the right acquired by birth was indefeasible and could not be forfeited through any acts of usurpation of however long continuance. The threat which Richard of York posed to King Henry VI was met by his banishment abroad where he bided his time for an opportunity to return to England and claim his inheritance, which came during the disorder following the loss of France.
France in the meantime was in rebellion against English rule. The death of the Duke of Bedford [the king's uncle], the regent of France, in 1436, was followed by an uprising of the citizens of Paris which spared revolts in other French cities and soon the whole country was in rebellion. The Count of Armagnac [Jean IV] occupied Paris with his militia after its citizens drove out the city's English garrison, and proclaimed the French prince Charles of Valois as King of France. Charles of Valois, styled king as Charles VII, called "The Victorious," was a weak, ungracious, and fickle man. Charles of Valois, supported by the Count of Armagnac and his troops, began the liberation of France from its foreign occupiers and slowly retook the country town by town over the next seventeen years. The war turned decisively in favor of the French with the victories of Joan of Arc who raised the siege of Orleans and escorted Charles of Valois to his coronation at Rheims. She was later burned at the stake by church authorities as a witch and the French King Charles never made any effort to save her. English rule in France began to crumble in the following years and after the French victory at Castellon in 1453 the English were completely driven out of France except for "The French Pale," that is, the port-city of Calais and the surrounding area, finally ending the Hundred Years' War. The English government was bankrupt and exhausted and accepted the outcome and made peace.
The English were outraged by the loss of France and riots broke out all over the country against the regime, and some of the king's ministers were murdered by rioting mobs. King Henry VI that year suffered the first of several attacks of insanity he was to have during his life. His illness threw the royal court into confusion. Richard of York, the rival claimant, returned to England while the country was in turmoil and the government was shaken by internal political crisis and raised a following and jockeyed for power and was appointed regent by parliament during the king's illness and used the opportunity to assert his claim to the throne. The queen was beside herself, her attendants dismissed and replaced with Yorkists, her husband insane, and her only supporter Edmund Beaufort, the Duke of Somerset, formerly King Henry VI's chancellor, under arrest in the Tower of London. The queen thereupon took matters into her own hands and dissolved parliament in the king's name announcing the royal resolve to govern herself as regent during the king's illness. She dismissed Richard of York as regent and released Somerset from the Tower of London and reinstated him as chancellor. Richard of York, however, mustered some troops to maintain his position and civil war broke out which has come to be called the "War of the Roses," for the badge of the Lancastrians was a red rose and the badge of the Yorkists was a white rose. It was to last off-and-on for thirty years (1455-1485); the fortunes of the warring parties swaying to and fro. There was a breakdown of law and order throughout the country and the government was disorganized for much of the period as rival branches of the royal house fought over the throne. The queen was quite alone after Somerset was killed in the Yorkist victory at St. Albans, after which Richard of York was reinstated as regent and governed the country in the king's name with the title "Lord Protector." The royal family was virtually prisoners in their own palace during York's regency. King Henry soon recovered from his illness and got out from under York's supervision and raised an army to oust Prince Richard but was defeated in battle at Northampton and brought back to London a prisoner and was shut up in the Tower of London. The queen rallied another army to rescue the king and personally defeated Richard of York in battle at Wakefield, where Richard of York was captured and put to death, and, following her victory over the Yorkists in the 2nd Battle of St. Albans, marched on London and liberated the king. The Lancastrian victory however was short-lived for Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick, one of the rebel nobles, rallied Yorkist forces and declared Richard of York's son Prince Edward to be the king, and secured his succession by his victory over the Lancastrians at Towton. King Henry was again captured and brought back to the Tower of London where he remained a prisoner for the next ten years. The queen with the help of an outlaw escaped to France along with her son Edward, the Prince of Wales, possessing only the clothes they were wearing. King Henry VI was deposed in 1461 [4 Mar.] in the thirty-ninth year of his reign by the Earl of Warwick, who thereupon set Edward of York on the throne.
EDWARD IV, the son of the earlier claimant Richard of York, was made king in 1461 (age 19) by the Earl of Warwick, called "The King-Maker," on the deposition of his 3rd-cousin King Henry VI. Edward IV was the first English monarch of the House of York which was a branch of the royal house descended from Edmund of Langley, the Duke of York, the 5th son of King Edward III. Edward, however, did not derive his claim to the throne from the Yorkist-line but through his grandmother, Anne Mortimer, who represented the senior line of Clarence, descended from Lionel of Antwerp, the Duke of Clarence, the 3rd son of King Edward III, and, as representing the senior line of Clarence was the "rightful" king over Henry VI who represented the Lancastrian line descended from John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster, the 4th son of King Edward III. The accession of the House of York represented the restoration of the hereditary line to the throne, and with it came all the customary powers of the crown.
The early years of his reign King Edward was dominated by a military-junta headed by Warwick, who was notoriously ambitious. The marriage of King Edward to Elizabeth Wydeville, whose family were former pro-Lancastrian enemies, and the advancement of her relatives [who were viewed with loathsome distrust by the Yorkist nobles] gave offense to Warwick who had wanted King Edward to marry his daughter Anne, for it meant that the king was aiming to free himself from under the control of the governing-junta. King Edward's refusal to submit to Warwick caused Warwick to become dissatisfied with King Edward and eventually Warwick deposed King Edward and brought the ex-king Henry VI out of the Tower of London and restored him to the throne. The ex-king Edward IV fled to the continent while his pregnant wife Elizabeth took sanctuary in Westminster Abbey, where she gave birth to a son, Edward [the future Edward V], another heir to the contested throne.
HENRY VI was restored by Warwick "The King-Maker" in 1470 [30 Oct.]. The restoration or "readeption" of King Henry VI was however brief lasting only six months. The real ruler of the country during the restoration was Warwick who had his daughter Anne marry Henry VI's son Edward, the Prince of Wales, who returned from exile along with his mother Queen Margaret and rejoined the king in London. Meantime, the ex-king Edward IV recruited a force of mercenaries on the European continent and in the spring of 1471 returned to England and defeated and slew Warwick in battle at Barnet and marched into London. He walked into the palace without opposition and straight into the presence of King Henry VI who was arrested and sent back to the Tower of London a prisoner. King Henry VI was again deposed [11 Apr.], and King Edward IV resumed his briefly interrupted reign. Queen Margaret and the Prince of Wales were out of London at the time, and on hearing the news the queen rallied her supporters and marched against King Edward. Queen Margaret was defeated in battle at Tewkesbury where she was captured along with her son, Prince Edward. She was brought before King Edward and forthwith sent to London where she entered the Tower of London a prisoner the same night that her husband the ex-king Henry VI (age 49) was murdered by his jailors. He was stabbed to death at the chapel's altar while saying his prayers. She saw his body carried past her window on its way to be buried in Chertsey Abbey, Surrey. His body was later re-interred in the royal crypt in St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle. The murder of her son Edward, the Prince of Wales, on King Edward IV's orders, ended all her hopes. After five years a prisoner, she was ransomed by her cousin King Louis XI of France and returned to her father on the continent with whom she lived at his chateau, La Maison de Reculee, near Angers. She went to live with an old family retainer after her father's death, and later died worn-out before her time.
EDWARD IV enjoyed general acceptance as king after his restoration in 1471, and even old enemies joined his service. King Edward, of his queen Elizabeth ["Lady Ferrers"], daughter of Richard Wydeville, and, widow of Sir John Grey [by whom she was the mother of two sons], had two sons and six daughters to survive infancy. King Edward also had illegitimate issue. Edward IV was a womanizer and would boast of his three mistresses whom he would refer to as: one, the merriest, another, the wiliest, and, the other, the holiest harlot[s] in the realm. King Edward was head-strong, ruthless, and pleasure-loving. He was tall [six-feet four], handsome, and charming. He had a taste for fine foods, music, dance, poetry, and expensive clothes. He did much to promote the development of English trade, and England began to prosper once more. The arts, music, and literature, all flourished during his reign. He was a patron of William Caxton, who set up the first printing-press in England and published thousands of books [about 100 titles]. King Edward IV of England claimed the French throne and invaded France in 1475, but barely a month later met with King Louis XI of France who promised to pay a yearly tribute recognizing English overlordship and made peace. The French king later reneged on his pledge and stopped the yearly payments to England and renounced his fidelity to the English king; and King Edward began making preparations for a second campaign. King Edward, however, was suddenly struck down by a mysterious illness and died unexpectedly in 1483 (age 40) in the twenty-second year of his reign. He was buried in St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.
EDWARD V, the child born in sanctuary, was a minor (age 12) at the time of his succession on his father's death in 1483. Three weeks later the boy-king Edward was seized on his way from Ludlow Castle to London by a squad of soldiers led by his uncle Richard, the Duke of Gloucester [his father's brother], the "wicked uncle" of English History, who arrested and later murdered the young king's older half-brother, Richard Grey, as well as the king's maternal uncle, Anthony Wydeville, Earl Rivers, the queen's brother, who were accompanying the boy-king to London. Richard of Gloucester overthrew the regency of the queen Elizabeth ["Lady Ferrers"], and her Wydeville relatives and assumed authority establishing himself as regent for the boy-king. The queen, on hearing of the arrest of her brother and the seizure of her son, took her other son, Prince Richard (age 9), and again sought sanctuary in Westminster Abbey, which Richard of Gloucester surrounded with soldiers. She was eventually persuaded to come out by Richard of Gloucester who took her son Prince Richard from her. She never saw him again, nor his older brother Edward, the boy-king, and ended her days confined to a nunnery at Bermondsey Abbey. [Her royal title was later restored by Henry VII in 1486 after he became king.] Richard of Gloucester as regent conspired to take the throne for himself and had parliament declare the marriage of [his brother] the late king to Elizabeth Wydeville invalid on the grounds that it had been irregular which automatically bastardized all of his children, and, therefore, it followed that Edward V was no longer king. Thus, King Edward V, after a brief reign of nearly three months [9 Apr.- 25 Jun.], was deposed by his uncle Richard of Gloucester who then took the throne as King Richard III, by-passing another nephew, Prince Edward, the son of his late older brother, Prince George, the Duke of Clarence, who was debarred from the throne by an act of attainder [which could legally be reversed]. King Richard III imprisoned the ex-king Edward V and his younger brother Prince Richard in the Tower of London [whose existence was a threat to his position] and secretly had the two princes (ages 12 and 9) murdered [Mar./Apr. 1484] by their jailors [one of whom, Walter Tyrrell, was to later confess and was executed in 1502]. Their deaths were never announced nor officially acknowledged, however, rumors almost immediately began to circulate that they were dead. Later, a search for their bodies by King Henry VII was unsuccessful, however, about two hundred years later in 1674 during work on the castle their skeletons were discovered buried together in a chest ten feet underground beneath the flight of stairs which led up to the room where they had been confined in the castle. The skeletons were medically examined and it was concluded that the remains were those of the two lost princes; and were therefore transferred and entombed in Westminster Abbey given a royal burial and funeral rites. Their graves were opened in 1933 and again in 1987 when on both occasions their bones were examined and were verified authentic.
RICHARD III, called "CROOKBACK" for a deformity, usurped the throne in 1483 (age 33) upon deposing his nephew, the boy-king Edward V, whom he had murdered along with his younger brother, Prince Richard, to clear his title to the throne. King Richard III, unlike his tall, handsome, athletic late brother [King Edward IV], was short, unattractive, and had a slight curvature of his spine, however, was probably not hunchback as portrayed by Shakespeare. Richard III is one of the most vilified of English kings. He was dark, sinister, and evil; indeed, a monster of nature. He was so obviously evil that dogs barked at him. His misdeeds made him unpopular with the English people and turned the nobles against him. There was a rebellion of the nobles in 1483 led by Henry Stafford, the Duke of Buckingham. King Richard offered a pardon to the rebel nobles and a reward for the capture of Stafford who was caught and executed for treason. Richard III was placed in a bad position by the premature death of his only legitimate child, [another] Prince Edward, the Prince of Wales, a ten-year-old boy, in 1484, and was faced with the possibility that he may be only an interim king with the succession wide open. Thus, in the hope of remarrying and begetting another son, King Richard quietly murdered his queen Anne Neville by slowly poisoning her [to make her decline appear to be an illness], and then made arrangements to marry his niece Princess Elizabeth, the sister of the two murdered princes [the ex-king Edward V and his brother], whom King Richard III had earlier re-legitimated and betrothed to his son Edward, the Prince of Wales, in order to strengthen the position of his family in the throne. Meantime, Henry Tudor, a Welsh noble, whose mother was the Lancastrian heiress, to whom the Lancastrian party looked to as their leader, encouraged by disaffected English nobles, returned from exile in France and landed at Milford Haven in Wales with a force of volunteers and marched through Wales rallying his fellow Welsh countrymen to arms and crossed the border into England and marched against King Richard III, yet not under the Lancastrian banner of the red rose [as he was expected to] but under the red dragon standard of Wales. Henry Tudor gathered support in England from King Richard's opponents and slew Richard III (age 35) in battle at Bosworth in 1485 in the second year of his reign. The crown King Richard wore on his helmet fell off his head and rolled under a bush the moment he was unhorsed and slain, crying, "a horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse," and was found after the battle and placed on Squire Henry's head to the shouts of "long live the king" by his soldiers. It was the only time in English History that a king was killed and a king was crowned the same day on the same field-of-battle. King Richard's body was ignominiously treated and slung naked over a horse and taken to the near-by town of Leicester where he was buried in Grey Friars Church. His tomb was later rifled and his remains were thrown into the Soar River, and his coffin used for decades as a horse-trough outside a local tavern. King Richard III was not only the last king of the House of York but was also the last English monarch of the Plantagenet Dynasty. The end of the Angevins in England coincided with the end of the Medieval Era.
HENRY VII obtained to the English throne (age 28/29) by his victory in battle over King Richard III in 1485. Henry VII was not in the line of succession yet he did have a claim to the throne, but it of itself would not have put him there. Henry was a Welsh noble of the Tudor Family and was not an English prince, nor was he even a Lancaster though he came to be considered as the head of the Lancastrians after the murder of the Lancastrian heir, Edward, Prince of Wales, only child of King Henry VI, as the next heir through his mother Margaret Beaufort, the Lancastrian heiress, through whom he derived his claim to the throne, the grand-daughter of King Henry IV's half-brother John Beaufort, the illegitimate son of John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster, who had been legitimized by royal charter, and by act of parliament, and even by the pope. King Henry VII was the first English monarch of the House of Tudor.
The Tudors were a Welsh noble house directly descended from the great King ARTHUR himself, thus, the accession of the Tudors was seen not as the establishment of a new dynasty on the throne but as the restoration of an old dynasty, the Arthurian Dynasty, after almost a thousand years of obscurity as local Welsh lords. King Henry VII was himself exactly 30th in descent in the male-line from King Arthur, the legendary British king. The Welsh called Henry "Mab Darogan," that is, the "prophesied son," referring to the widespread Welsh belief in the prophecy of the restoration of a "son [descendant]" of King Arthur and the Arthurian Dynasty on the British throne. The same year that King Henry VII ascended the throne Malory's book "Morte d'Arthur" was published, which coincidence could hardly be ignored and invested the crown with a new mystique. The monarchy of King Arthur was actually restored after a thousand years in abeyance. The long reign of the Saxons, and the Norman-French after them, was at last over. It was the end of the "English Era" and the beginning of the "New British Era."
Too, the Tudors, through female-links, had come to represent the Old Welsh Royal House. King Henry VII descended in two descent-lines from both aunts of Llywelyn III "The Last," the last native Prince of Wales, who were the co-heiresses of the Old Welsh Royal House; and, in another line descended from the illegitimate daughter of Llywelyn III "The Last." The Tudors, representing the Old Welsh Royal House, which had been dispossessed on the conquest of Wales by England under the Plantagenets, here overthrew the Plantagenets and took possession of the very kingdom which had earlier conquered theirs. In a sense, Wales had conquered England in the Battle of Bosworth. The Tudors genealogically united both Welsh and English royalty in themselves cementing the union of England and Wales. The marriage of King Henry VII's elder daughter Margaret to King James IV of Scotland set the stage for the later union of the whole of Britain under the Stuarts.
There were others who had better claims to the English throne than King Henry's, primarily of whom was the Yorkist heiress Elizabeth, the sister of the late boy-king Edward V [who was re-legitimized], whom Henry VII took as his wife and thereby solved that problem. The marriage of Henry VII, the Lancastrian heir, and Elizabeth, the Yorkist heiress, united the houses of York and Lancaster and ended the "War of the Roses." The marriage produced two sons and three daughters to survive infancy, however, one daughter died in childhood and their eldest son Arthur, the Prince of Wales, died in his teens which left one son and two daughters to reach adulthood, marry, and have issue. Another with a better claim to the throne than King Henry's was the Yorkist heiress Elizabeth's cousin Prince Edward, the son of the Duke of Clarence, Prince George, the brother of King Edward IV and King Richard III; and King Henry VII had Prince Edward locked up in the Tower of London. He was later executed after attempting to escape (1499). The prince, the only remaining Yorkist heir left, was the last male-line Plantagenet. The Yorkist heiress Elizabeth's other cousin, John de la Pole, the son of King Edward IV's and King Richard III's sister Princess Elizabeth, also had a better claim to the English throne than King Henry's, and John de la Pole was also done away with by King Henry so as to clear his own title to the throne. King Henry was also challenged by two pretenders who raised separate rebellions. The first was Lambert Simnel who impersonated the queen's cousin Prince Edward, who at the time was a prisoner in the Tower of London; and, the other was Perkin Warbeck who pretended to be Richard of York, the younger brother of the late boy-king Edward V, who was already dead by then but that was still not generally known. The rebellions of the two pretenders were both crushed by King Henry [whom some regarded as himself an usurper] and the imposters were captured and dealt with. Henry VII in spite of rival claimants and pretenders was nevertheless successful in securing his dynasty on the English throne.
The end of the Plantagenet Dynasty and the accession of the House of Tudor coincided with the end of the Late Middle Ages and the beginning of the Renaissance. King Henry VII eliminated the remnants of the feudal system in England and formed a new administration in which for the first time the highest offices of government were given to commoners instead of to the nobles. The merchant class now took the place of the old aristocracy as the most important element sustaining the state. The power of the nobles was broken by King Henry who banned their private armies and set up a special court to try and punish any nobles who broke the law, which was called the "Star Chamber." Henry VII restored law and order in England after years of civil war. The local administration was transferred to the justices-of-the-peace, and the police force was created to assist the local courts, which remains today the primary agents for enforcing order. King Henry disliked parliament and avoided calling it and introduced an absolutism the like of which England had not been subject to for centuries and which certainly would not have been tolerated by the English people of the later Plantagenets. For as ineffective monarchs have let powers slip, so vigorous monarchs have breathed new life into powers that have laid dormant for years, even centuries. Yet, though the Tudor Dynasty reasserted the royal prerogative, the trend toward ministerial government and independent departments continued also. King Henry wisely managed his money and ran the country from his own resources. The country was in debt when Henry became king but he handled the affairs of the nation as a competent businessman and in a very few years turned the country's economy around and amassed a vast fortune in the nation's treasury. The arts, trade, and crafts all flourished during King Henry's reign, which saw the beginning of the establishment of an overseas empire. English exploration of the New World began with an expedition led by John Cabot to Canada in 1497, and another trip by his son Sebastian the following year claimed Canada for England. King Henry invaded France in 1491. The issue was Brittany, an independent duchy long coveted by France. The duchy had retained its independence throughout the medieval era. That changed in 1490 when French troops marched in and occupied Brittany, whereupon King Henry decided to help the province. King Henry, however, was bribed by the King of France and withdrew in 1492 in return for a large amount of money; and left Brittany to its fate. Brittany was later annexed by France in 1532 however retained its own parliament until 1790 when it was abolished during the French Revolution. King Henry VII was not always popular and sometimes was detested by his subjects. He was tough, reserved, and austere, but a hard-worker and a capable ruler of great ability. Though often portrayed as a miser, King Henry spent money lavishly and kept a splendid court. In addition to the Household Cavalry King Henry VII instituted a personal bodyguard of foot-soldiers on the model of the "praetorian guard" of the Roman emperors, called the "Yeomen." In 1507 King Henry's health began to decline; and he died exhausted from over-work in 1509 (age 52) in the twenty-fourth year of his reign. He was buried in Westminster Abbey.
HENRY VIII, called "Bluff King Hal", succeeded to the throne (age 18) on his father's death in 1509. King Henry VIII was the unquestioned heir of King Edward III, for the Clarence, Lancaster, and York branches of King Edward's descendants all came together genealogically in King Henry VIII and his two sisters, Princess Margaret and Princess Mary, hence, the indisputability of his position enabled King Henry VIII to rule all classes of his subjects with despotic power. The descendants of Henry VIII's two sisters became rival branches claiming the throne after the extinction of Henry VIII's issue [son and two daughters].
Three years after his accession to the English-Welsh throne King Henry claimed the French Crown and in a twist of politics the pope [Julius II] recognized Henry VIII of England as King Henri III of France (1512), but it was doubtful if the French throne could actually be obtained by Henry. King Henry reopened the Hundred Years' War and invaded France in 1513. He took some French cities and defeated the French Army at Guinegatte where the French fled in such haste that it was called the Battle of Spurs. King Louis XII of France sued for peace, and he and King Henry came to terms. Louis XII married Henry VIII's younger sister, Mary, to seal the peace treaty but died childless soon after, upon which Princess Mary returned to England and married a commoner, Charles Brandon, as her second husband with whom she had an earlier affair. Their story was the setting of the movie "The Sword and The Rose." A series of meetings took place between King Henry VIII and the new French king, Francis I, at Ardres, near Calais, which was on such a scale that the place was called "The Field of the Cloth of Gold." It was the last display of medieval chivalry. The meetings did not resolve anything and before long King Henry launched a new offensive and campaigned in France another three years. The French king finally agreed to pay King Henry a yearly tribute. He, however, later stopped the payments and King Henry came back to France on another expedition and occupied a large part of the country. It was not until the year after King Henry's death that English troops in France were finally brought home.
Wales was formally united with England by the Act of Union in 1536, and its administrative system was integrated with that of England's. The Welsh Assembly was dissolved and thereafter the Welsh were represented in the English Parliament, that is, until the constitutional reforms during the later reign of Queen Elizabeth II that partially decentralized the "United Kingdom" with the monarch re-calling the Welsh Assembly to meet in 1999 [1 Jul.][the next day, 2 July, 1999, the Queen opened a new Scottish Parliament], transferring administrative powers from the English Parliament back to the locales, or, in this case, to the Welsh Assembly [and to the Scottish Parliament].
The royal style was changed by Henry in 1541 from "Lord" to "King" of Ireland after suppressing a rebellion in Ireland led by the O'Neill heir, Conn "Bacach," a claimant to the Irish throne, who submitted to King Henry and resigned his rights over to him, and in compensation was made the first Earl of Tyrone in the British Peerage. Henry's title "King of Ireland" was confirmed by the Irish Parliament in 1542, which was attended by all of the Irish chiefs who all gave their consents; and, Ireland from 1541 was to constitute a separate realm called the "Kingdom of Ireland" with the Kings of England as the heads of state. King Henry VIII was himself descended from Irish kings; and was exactly thirteenth in descent from the Irish heiress Aeoifa, the daughter of Ireland's last native king, Ruaidri II [Rory O'Connor], however, Ireland [like France] traditionally did not permit its crown to pass through an heiress but through males only and therefore the claim of later English kings to the Irish throne was challenged by elements of the Irish people.
Henry VIII styled himself as King of England, France, and Ireland. Not surprisingly, Henry VIII also had imperialistic intentions, but his attempt in 1519 to obtain the imperial throne and become Holy Roman Emperor, the highest office in Europe, failed due to a mismanaged campaign and few electors were persuaded to vote for him.
A magnificent court was created by King Henry VIII attended by famous artists, musicians, and writers, behind which lay the day-to-day administration of the country. The English parliament completely took over Westminster Palace, the main residence of English kings, after King Henry moved out in 1512 and made Whitehall Palace his residence. [Hampton Court was Henry VIII's country estate outside of London; today Sandringham House serves as the royal family‘s country-estate.] St. James' Palace became the main royal residence in London after Whitehall Palace was destroyed by fire in 1698, and officially remains so until this day, even after Queen Victoria moved into Buckingham Palace in 1837. Her predecessor, King William IV, was the last British monarch to use St. James' Palace as a residence.
The main concern for King Henry VIII during his reign was for a male heir and the continuation of his dynasty, for which King Henry VIII is primarily remembered for his six wives. His first wife, Catherine of Aragon, only had one child to survive infancy, a daughter, Mary, and soon it became obvious that she was unlikely to have any more children. King Henry toyed with the idea of designating his illegitimate son Henry FitzRoy as his heir, but decided instead to divorce Catherine and marry another in the hope of begetting a male heir. The pope [Paul III], however, denied King Henry a divorce. Henry's chancellor, Thomas Wolsey, failed to secure King Henry a divorce and was dismissed and arrested on trumped-up charges but died before he could be brought to trail. Thomas More, the new chancellor, suddenly had a change of conscience and sided with the pope and was executed by King Henry for treason. Thomas Cromwell, who followed as chancellor, converted the matter of the king's divorce, a personal issue, into an issue of one between the sovereignty of the state and the authority of the pope. The so-called "Reformation Parliament" nationalized the Church in England as the Anglican [Episcopalian] Church, united the pontificate to the crown, and coerced the clergy into recognizing the king and not the pope as the Supreme Head of the English Church (1534). Here "Protestantism," which was already gaining ground on the continent, was introduced into England. The Church thus under Henry's control gave him his divorce; and he married his pregnant mistress Anne Boleyn as his second wife. She bore him a daughter Elizabeth much to Henry's disappointment and he soon lost interest in her. She, neglected by King Henry, had an affair and was found out and was executed for adultery. King Henry married thirdly Jane Seymour who bore him the longed-for male heir, Edward, though she herself died within a few days. Henry decided later to marry again, and this time married Anne of Cleves as his fourth wife. She was a mail-order bride (so to speak) and did not please King Henry; and after only six months of marriage divorced her. The disastrous Cleves marriage brought down Prime-Minister Cromwell who was executed on trumped-up charges. There were no leading ministers to emerge after Thomas Cromwell and matters of state thereafter received little attention from the king. King Henry married Catherine Howard as his fifth wife. She did not care for him and had numerous affairs and smuggled her lovers into her apartments at every opportunity. Her affairs were discovered and she was executed for adultery. King Henry married lastly Catherine Parr as his sixth wife. She was to outlive him. It was at her influence that King Henry's assortment of children, Mary, Elizabeth, and Edward, were gathered together to make a family, and for the first time King Henry enjoyed a family-life. Henry VIII had a variety of interests beside womanizing which included hunting and sports. He played music, composed songs, and wrote poems.
As the years went by King Henry VIII became increasing autocratic, and later in life became grossly overweight and changed into an irrational, violent, and intolerant ogre. As one writer put it "he changed from a young man of great promise into a bad-tempered, brutal, and ill-balanced tyrant." The once much-admired king had degenerated into an obese monster, and became the "English Stalin." King Henry grew vindictive and executed anyone whom he did not like. It became dangerous for anyone to be around him. He was hated by his subjects at the time of his death. King Henry VIII died riddled with disease in 1547 (age 56) in the thirty-eighth year of his reign. He was buried in St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.
EDWARD VI was a minor (age 9) on his succession at his father's death in 1547. King Edward VI was a small, fragile child, who suffered from poor health for most of his life. He was a serious youth, somewhat introverted, and exceptionally mature at an unusually early age. His unscrupulous uncle [mother's brother], Edward Seymour, the Duke of Somerset, forced himself on the boy-king and assumed control as regent. His swashbuckling brother Thomas [the king's favorite uncle], however, tried to supplant him as regent, but Somerset had his brother arrested and executed while diverting the king's attention. It embittered King Edward against his uncle. Somerset was unpopular and made enemies all around him and was soon caught up in another power struggle and was arrested by the privy council on a charge of conspiring against its members and was himself executed on the council's orders, after which the council's president, John Dudley, the Duke of Northumberland, took over affairs of state as regent. Dudley was a schemer with unbridled ambition. He completely dominated the boy-king and persuaded Edward to shut out his half-sisters Mary and Elizabeth from the succession [who were declared illegitimate] and to name his cousin, Jane Grey, to be the heiress in the absence of his own issue. The scheme was the hope of Dudley to raise his own son Guilford to the throne whom he had to marry Lady Jane. Edward VI caught tuberculosis and died in 1553 (age 15) unwed and without issue in the sixth year of his reign. His death was hastened by Dudley who slowly poisoned him. King Edward VI was buried in Westminster Abbey.
JANE was raised to the throne in 1553 (age 15) on the death of her cousin [once removed], King Edward VI, by the ambitious Northumberland who had her proclaimed queen immediately upon the boy-king's death. A general sense of confusion and uncertainty prevailed throughout the country over her succession. Lady Jane Grey was the only English monarch of the House of Suffolk and/or Grey.
The House of Suffolk, or Grey, descended from a Scottish branch of the royal Irish family of the O'Neills, hence, the Old Irish Royal House came into possession of the English throne. She was the eldest of the three daughters of Henry Grey, the Duke of Suffolk, and his wife Frances, the daughter of Charles Brandon and the English princess, Mary, King Henry VIII's younger sister. Jane's sisters were Catherine [mother of Lord Beauchamp, a later claimant] and Mary. Jane did not have much of a claim to the throne, for even if King Edward's two half-sisters, Princess Mary and Princess Elizabeth were passed over then the next in line was Mary, Queen of Scots, the grand-daughter of King Henry VIII's elder sister, Margaret, who had precedence over Lady Jane, the grand-daughter of Henry VIII's younger sister, Mary; and, even if one conceded Jane, then, Jane's mother, Frances, who was still alive would be the next in line. Too, another with a better claim than Jane's was Margaret, the Countess of Lennox [the daughter of Henry VIII's elder sister, Margaret, and her second husband, Archibald Douglas], the wife of Matthew Stuart and the mother of their two sons Henry and Charles, the eldest of whom, Henry, Lord Darnley, another possible claimant to the throne, was the second husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, which gave their son, Prince James [the future King James I] a double claim to the throne. Lady Jane was reluctant to accept the crown forced on her by her father-in-law and her ambitious parents but had no choice. She was a minor and was controlled by Northumberland who held onto power as regent, yet she adamantly refused to allow her husband Guilford Dudley [Northumberland's son] to be proclaimed king with her as co-sovereign and thus foiled Northumberland's designs on the throne. Her unwilling marriage to Northumberland's son, for whom she had little affection, tied her fate to her father-in-law's ability to press her claim to the throne. The country was incensed by Northumberland's presumption at tampering with the succession and threw their support to the late king's half-sister Princess Mary. Mary, who was at Framlingham Castle, Suffolk, proclaimed herself queen on the news that the country favored her and set out for London. Northumberland placed himself at the head of some troops to apprehend her, but the strength of Mary's position soon became apparent by the time he reached Cambridge and giving in to the inevitable he disbanded his troops. Mary made a triumphal entry into London accompanied by her half-sister Elizabeth and a band of friends. All support for Lady Jane dissipated in the hoopla, and Mary took the throne without dispute. Lady Jane was deposed having reigned as Queen for only nine days [10-19 July]. Northumberland was executed for treason; and Lady Jane and her husband Guildford Dudley were both imprisoned in the Tower of London. The couple were drawn closer together during their imprisonment. Early the next year, following an uprising in Lady Jane's favor, the "nine-days queen" and her consort were both executed [both age 16] and buried in the Chapel Royal of St. Peter-ad-Vindula in the Tower of London.
MARY I, called "BLOODY MARY", succeeded to the throne in 1553 (age 38) on deposing the usurper Lady Jane Grey, her cousin [once removed]. Queen Mary I was a devout catholic and was resolute to end the schism with Rome, and bring England back into obedience to the pope. She repealed the Protestant legislation of her father and reconciled the Church in England to the Roman Catholic Church. Mary suppressed all opposition in her rigorous attempt to eradicate Protestantism in England. She revived the old law against heresy and her agents were sent all over the country rounding up leading protestants and imprisoning them, and hundreds were executed or burned at the stake as heretics. The terrible cruelties she inflicted on those who refused to forsake Protestantism and re-embrace Roman Catholicism in her relentless persecutions in which hundreds died, often horribly, made her very unpopular and earned her the nickname "Bloody Mary." For most of her reign English cities reeked with the odor of burning bodies and of the decaying corpses of heretics. The Arch-Bishop of Canterbury was among her victims. She even sent her half-sister Princess Elizabeth to the Tower of London a prisoner, whom she suspected was a secret convert to Protestantism; and subjected her to almost daily cross-examinations. Only luck kept Princess Elizabeth from becoming one of Queen Mary's victims. She was later removed and confined to Hatfield House, Hertfordshire, where she later received the news of her half-sister's death and her own accession. Queen Mary I was a sour, heartless, vindictive, bigoted, and cold woman. She grew more ruthless as her reign proceeded on. There were two major uprisings against her, one in 1554, and the other in 1556, which were both brutally crushed on her orders. The marriage of Queen Mary I to Prince Philip of Spain, a Hapsburg prince, the son of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, was not a happy one, nor a success, and was very unpopular with the English people. He occupied the position of king-consort and reigned beside her as co-sovereign and was styled as "King of England" [which precedent was later followed by King William III and Queen Mary II], although the title was to lapse in the event of Queen Mary's death.
The House of Hapsburg briefly sat on the British throne. Prince [or King] Philip was only in England for about a year and returned to Spain upon the news that he had succeeded to its throne as King Philip II. He remained in Spain to Queen Mary's embarrassment, and was much too busy with the affairs of that country and returned to England only once more to involve England with Spain's war with France. The war was disastrous for England, and England lost its last remaining French possession, the port-city of Calais, which deeply affected Queen Mary. Queen Mary I died unwanted by her husband and despised by her subjects in 1558 (age 42) in the fifth year of her reign. She was buried in Westminster Abbey.
ELIZABETH I, called "THE VIRGIN QUEEN", succeeded to the throne (age 25) on the death of her half-sister in 1558. Elizabeth embraced the "reformed faith" and restored Protestantism in England. Ties with Rome were again severed, the Church in England was again nationalized, and royal supremacy over the Church was renewed, however, Elizabeth changed the royal style from "head" to "governor" saying that only Jesus Christ should be styled as "Head" of His Church.
The Catholics considered Elizabeth illegitimate, while the Protestants considered her legitimate. Her legitimacy depended on the validity of her father's divorce of Catherine of Aragon and his subsequent marriage to Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth's mother. The next in line to the throne after Elizabeth was her cousin [once removed], Mary, Queen of Scots, a Catholic, the daughter of the Scottish king James V, the son of King Henry VIII's sister Margaret, therefore, Mary was considered by the Catholics as the "rightful" queen, consequently, she styled herself as "Queen of England" in addition to her other titles [for which Elizabeth never forgave her], and there were at least five plots during Elizabeth's reign to oust her and place her cousin Mary on the throne.
The rival claimant Mary of Scotland had been betrothed to the English King Edward VI, but following his premature death she married the French Dauphin who soon afterwards became King of France as Francis II. He died himself premature, and Mary returned to Scotland and married secondly her cousin Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, the son of the Countess of Lennox, who was himself a claimant to the English throne, and by him begot a son, Prince James [the future King JAMES I]. The couple had little, if any, affection for each other, and Queen Mary found solace in her secretary, David Riccio. Her husband suspected that Riccio was his wife's lover; and, murdered him. Darnley was himself murdered the following year and suspicion fell on James Hepburn, the Earl of Bothwell, whom Queen Mary afterwards married as her third husband. Scotland was outraged by the marriage of the queen to the man who was generally believed to have murdered her husband. The Scots rose up in rebellion and Queen Mary was deposed by the Scottish nobles who took custody of her infant son James and proclaimed him King of Scotland as his mother's successor. Mary, the ex-queen, took flight out of the country, but was captured by the English before she could escape to France where she had friends awaiting her. The ex-queen Mary was imprisoned in the Tower of London by Queen Elizabeth for nineteen years and was executed when another plot was uncovered to murder Queen Elizabeth and place her on the English throne. The great irony is that the son of Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth's arch-rival, namely, Prince James, succeeded Queen Elizabeth on the throne.
Catholic Europe regarded Elizabeth as an usurper and there were foreign challenges to her reign as well as domestic ones. France made an unsuccessful attempt in 1558 to invade England and oust Elizabeth and place Mary of Scotland on the English throne as Mary II of England, however, the greatest challenge to Elizabeth was from Spain whose king Philip II made an unsuccessful attempt in 1588 to invade England and oust Elizabeth and impose himself as England's king, which title he kept although it had lapsed in England years earlier on the death of his late wife [Mary I]. Queen Elizabeth secretly promoted privateering warfare against Spain through the piracy of Spanish shipping by English merchant adventurers [or buccaneers], such as John Hawkins, Francis Drake, Walter Raleigh, and others, acting on their own responsibility, which contributed to the outbreak of open warfare with the launching of the Spanish Armada. The news of the approaching invasion force caused alarm and panic throughout the country. The queen came herself to see the English Fleet off and gave one of her most famous speeches. The Spanish Armada was thrown into disarray by a storm in the English Channel and was destroyed by the more easily maneuverable English galleons. The decisive battle was fought off Gravelines. The defeat of the Spanish Armada established England's unchallenged maritime supremacy on the high seas for the next 300 years.
The reign of Queen Elizabeth I saw a vast expansion of English trade as well as the extension of England's overseas possessions. Francis Drake [who sailed around the world] claimed California for England in 1579; and, an expedition led by Walter Raleigh claimed Virginia for England in 1584. The "Lost Colony" at Roanoke Island, North Carolina, founded in 1585, however, disappeared within a decade without a trace. The arts, literature, and theatre, all flourished during Queen Elizabeth's reign. Marlowe, Shakespeare, and Bacon, were among the famous writers of the Elizabethan Age. For years to come the English looked back at her reign as an age of cultural splendor and economic prosperity, and for the glory of her reign Queen Elizabeth was called "GLORIANA".
In 1593 the Irish rebelled under "Red" Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tryone, who is called in Irish records as "the last and one of the greatest Gaelic kings." He rejected his English peerage and restored the Irish kingdom. He was installed king at Tulach Og upon a sacred stone with due ceremony befitting an Irish king. He secured his succession by his victory over the English Army under John Norris in the Battle of Clontibert that year. In 1598 he defeated the English Army under Henry Bagenal at Yellow Ford, near Armagh, which was the greatest defeat ever suffered by an English army in Ireland. In 1599 the queen sent her lover Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex, with an army of 20,000 fresh troops. In 1600 he met with "Red" Hugh, the Earl of Tyrone, and both agreed to a truce, which enraged Queen Elizabeth and she summoned him back to London. Upon his return, Essex discovered that in the meantime he had fallen into disgrace. The queen then sent Charles Blount, Lord Mountjoy, to Ireland with instructions to subdue the isle, and he decisively defeated the Irish in 1601 in the Battle of Kinsale. Rumors that the English planned to execute the rebel Irish nobles, caused "Red" Hugh O'Neill and the other Irish earls to flee the country, which is called the "Flight of the Earls" in Irish History. The episode left Ireland without its native leaders, whose positions were then filled by English appointees.
There was pressure on Queen Elizabeth to marry for the good of the country until past her child-bearing years, but for political reasons she never did marry earning her the nickname "THE VIRGIN QUEEN." She appeared to be in love at times with Robert Dudley, Christopher Hatton, and Walter Raleigh, and finally with Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex, who was the last romantic interest in her life. She was in her fifties and he was in his twenties. He and his friends engaged in a palace coup endeavoring to drive away by force those of the queen's ministers whom he deemed his enemies, which failed and he was arrested and after much wavering Queen Elizabeth had him executed for treason.
Loved by her subjects, Queen Elizabeth was a popular monarch. She was a remarkable woman, cultured and intelligent; spoke nine languages, including Welsh, Cornish, Gaelic [the language of Scotland and Ireland], Manx, and French; and had a captivating personality. As a queen she was strong-willed, commanding, and had a proud manner, and could stir the public by her speeches; while, as a person she was friendly, tolerant, and charming, yet had a quick and sarcastic tongue. She disliked parliament and only called it to meet thirteen times in forty-four years. Queen Elizabeth loved to mingle with her subjects and embarked on "progresses" every year spending many weeks traveling around the country hauling the royal court in an enormous entourage along with her showing herself to her people winning their hearts. Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603 (age 69) in the forty-fourth year of her reign. She was buried in Westminster Abbey. Queen Elizabeth was the last Tudor monarch. The passing of the Tudors coincided with the passing of the Renaissance, and the accession of the Stuarts ushered in our modern era.
JAMES I succeeded to the throne (age 36) on the death of his cousin [twice removed] in 1603 regardless of an act of parliament excluding him from the succession and making Lord Beauchamp [the great-grandson of King Henry VIII's younger sister Princess Mary] to be Queen Elizabeth's heir over James Stuart [the great-grandson of King Henry VIII's elder sister Princess Margaret], however, popular opinion and the belief that hereditary right was indefeasible and that no act of parliament could override it caused James Stuart [who was heir only by title of birthright] to be accepted as king by the English people over Lord Beauchamp [who was heir by act of parliament]. James Stuart was already King of Scotland as James VI when he became King of England as James I. King James was the first English monarch of the House of Stuart [whose original family-surname was "Kyriakon," meaning "The Lord's House"]. The Stuarts came from Brittany [North-West France] to England at the time of the Norman Conquest and settled in Scotland where they married into the Scottish royal house and rapidly rose to prominence. The Stuarts descended through the dukes/kings of Brittany [Fr.: Bretagne] from the "desposynic" prince Conan "Meraidoc," the son of Agippanius of Provence [said to have been of "The Master's Kin"], and the British princess, Thametes, the sister of the British client-king Eudaf "Hen," who was given Armorica, that is, Brittany, as their estate by the Roman Emperor Maximus in AD382. The Stuarts thus trace their ancestry from Christianity's "Holy Family" or, more precisely, from "Saint" James, one of Jesus' [so-called] "brothers" [Mt. 13:55].The Stuarts were the last traceable male-line descendance of The Holy Family in Europe. The Stuarts in due time not only married into Scottish royalty but also into Welsh royalty as well as into English royalty, thus, eventually inheriting Scotland, Wales, and England, and uniting the whole of Britain under one crown in themselves.
In James Stuart the royalty of England, Wales, and Scotland united to form a single royal line, that is, the "New" British Royal House. Here the English Monarchy was transformed into the British Monarchy. King James introduced the name "Great Britain" and also a national flag, that is, the flags of England, Scotland, and Ireland were combined to make the "Union Jack," so called became James signed his name in the French "Jacques." To commemorate the British "Union," King James issued a coin, called a "unite," which was inscribed "faciam eos in gentem unam," which is a quote from the Bible [Ezekiel 37:22], that is, "I will make them one people." Although England, Wales, and Scotland were united dynastically in 1603 they were still separate countries, and not until 1707 that those countries were united politically by the union of their separate parliaments into a single parliament, that is, the British Parliament. "Great Britain" became the "United Kingdom" with the union of the Irish Parliament with the British Parliament in 1801, but all of that since has since been reversed (1990s). ["The British Monarch is equally the sovereign of England, Wales, Scotland, Ulster, and Man and The Isles, whether these nations choose to separate from the "United Kingdom" or form a different sort of federation or confederation would not affect the sovereign's position."]
Since the three kingdoms over which King James reigned each had a different faith, England was Episcopalian, Scotland was Presbyterian, and Ireland was Catholic, the Hampton Court Conference was held in 1604 to settle matters of religion. It rejected both Catholicism and Puritanism and endorsed Episcopalism, which was unsuccessfully imposed in Scotland and Ireland causing rebellions in those countries. King James reaffirmed the status of the Anglican Church as the state-church of England, and England has remained ever since a Protestant country. One important result of the conference was the commissioning of a new English translation of the Bible, the "King James Version" [published in 1611], which has since come to be the standard Protestant text.
The "Gunpowder Plot" was hatched in 1605 by Catholic zealots in a plan to blow up the Protestant king and all of the Protestant members of parliament, and place King James' cousin, Arabella Stuart, a Catholic, on the throne. Arabella was the only child of the king's uncle [father's brother] and was the next in line to the throne after King James and his issue. The plot was uncovered when the Catholic members of parliament were warned not to attend that day's session which gave rise to suspicion, and the barrels of gunpowder were discovered in the cellars beneath Westminster Palace where parliament meets. The plot failed and its leader Guy Fawkes was tried and hanged. Arabella was shut up in the Tower of London where she suffered a mental-breakdown and died some years later. The plot brought a new wave of anti-Catholic feeling in England, and for a while the English people felt amicable towards their Protestant king. The words "frustrate their knavish tricks" in the second verse of the country's national anthem, "God Save The King [or Queen]," alludes to the Gunpowder Plot, which occasion gave the anthem widespread popularity.
Parliament began asserting itself during King James' reign. King James lacked tact in dealing with parliament, and parliament lacked integrity in its dealings with the king. His first parliament ended in controversy over the rights of the crown and those of the people or their representatives in parliament. The king may rule by "divine right" but parliament had its own view of what authority came with that divine mandate and confronted the king on royal privilege. The concept of "human rights" was relatively new in Britain and was just beginning to take root. King James did not like parliament and once made the comment: "I am surprised that my ancestors should have permitted such an institution to have come into existence." King James felt that parliament was encroaching on the royal prerogative, which theoretically was Jesus Christ's royal prerogative since the monarch reigns in His Name, and claimed that the law of England was in the king's own mouth. King James had high ideals and believed in the sacredness of his office, but he was no statesman and had a number of run-ins with parliament over the royal prerogative, which parliament could allege no precedent to touch. One instance was that when King James overturned the election of someone to a seat in parliament and clashed with parliament which maintained that a disputed seat was their affair, and theirs alone to resolve. Another instance was when King James demanded to see parliament's journal and then ripped out the pages on which its members had recorded their privileges. Then, there was the time when King James fired the Chief-Justice, Edward Coke, when Coke refused to back down and give in to King James who lost his temper during a dispute that turned into a heated argument. Parliament was outraged at his interference in the courts even though King James had every right to do what he did as it was his prerogative. King James was unwilling to work with parliament and his relationship with parliament grew steadily worse during the course of his reign. He only called parliament to convene when he needed money, and parliament would use those opportunities to renew its quarrel with the king and refused all requests for money without first concessions and reform on the king's part. The old constitution was close to a stalemate and King James had to compromise royal rights in exchange for revenue, for the crown in the modern world of big government could no longer run the country off its own resources [which it was expected to do], which consisted mainly of its feudal revenues. Reform was carried out under the provisions of the "Great Contract" (1610), which was an agreement between the crown and parliament whereby the king would renounce his feudal revenues in return for a guaranteed annual income. Here was the origin of the so-called "civil list." Though King James granted the "Great Contract," he was not legally bound to it. For, the king as the "source of law" was above positive law; or else how could law be legally binding? Admittedly, he should obey his own laws, but his obedience was voluntary, not by compulsion. For the king is "solutus legibus"; and when law is spoken of as governing him it is moral, natural, or divine law, and not positive law that is intended by another authority.
For his absolutist tendencies King James was called "the British Solomon," and for his odd mixture of wisdom and folly he was called "the Wisest Fool in Christendom." King James was an unattractive and uninspiring figure, which was part of the problem since one's "looks" make a big difference to people. He lacked looks, charm, and was awkward, never regal, and was vulgar. King James, of his queen Anne of Denmark, had two sons and one daughter to survive infancy or childhood out of eight children. His eldest son, Henry-Frederick, the Prince of Wales, died of typhoid at age eighteen, after which King James' only other living son Prince Charles became his heir. The year following the death of the Prince of Wales King James' only living daughter Princess Elizabeth, called "Queen of Hearts," married the Count-Palatine of Germany, Frederick of Bavaria [who belonged to the great Wittelsbach family], and left to live in Germany. King James and his queen, once their children were grown, lost interest in each other and carried on separate lives. King James enjoyed himself with revels and hunting yet had a serious side and wrote books on politics, theology, and the occult; while his queen, Anne, pursued her own interests. King James surrounded himself with favorites. Philip Herbert was succeeded as court favorite by Robert Carr, who was appointed secretary-of-state. He was involved in a scandal and was replaced in office with George Villiers, whom King James made Duke of Buckingham, who served as secretary-of-state for the remainder of King James' reign.
note: the British colonization of America
British exploration and settlement of the New World began in earnest during the reign of King James. The first permanent English settlement in America was founded in 1607 [24 May] at Jamestown, Virginia, by 105 colonists led by Captain John Smith, among others, who left England and made the hazardous voyage across the Atlantic in three ships, the "Sarah Constant," the "Discovery," and the "Godspeed," and planted the English seed in the New World which proved to be the embryo of the later United State of America. The colony's first winter the settlers almost starved for lack of food. The Indian princess Pocahontas, the daughter of the chief of the Algonquin tribe, pleaded for and saved the life of Captain John Smith who had ventured out in search for food and was captured by the Indians. She preserved the English colony at Jamestown from Indian attack. Ten years later Pocahontas was brought to London and presented at court to King James. She was entertained by King James and sat beside him at a theatre production. In 1619 some 1200 new settlers who came to Virginia brought the population of the Jamestown colony to over 3000. Settlers from Virginia started colonies in Maryland and Carolina. In 1609 the English explorer Henry Hudson sailed up the Hudson River and explored what is now New York State. The pilgrims, a group of 120 puritans, obtained a license from King James and sailed in the "Mayflower" and landed at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, where they found a colony in 1620. In 1622 King James granted a charter to Ferdinando Gorges to establish a colony in Maine. In 1623 Captain John Mason of Hampshire, England, established the territory of New Hampshire in America from land granted by King James and founded an English settlement at Little Harbor, near Rye. King James' son, King Charles I, later granted Carolina to Robert Heath in 1629. In 1632 King Charles granted Maryland to Lord Baltimore who founded a colony there. The first English settlement in Connecticut was founded in 1633 at Windsor. Settlers from Massachusetts under Roger Williams founded the first English settlement in Rhode Island at Providence in 1636. The British took over New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware from the Dutch as well as New York State during the reign of King Charles' son, King Charles II, in 1664. In 1681 King Charles II gave Pennsylvania to William Penn, who named the colony after himself. The Carolina territory was divided in half, north and south, in 1719. In 1724 the first English settlement in Vermont was founded at Fort Drummer, near Brattleboro. The last of the original thirteen American colonies founded by the British was Georgia which King George II gave to James Oglethorpe in 1732. The next year Oglethorpe arrived there with the first settlers.
Britain was dragged into a war in Europe which broke out on the election of King James' son-in-law Frederick of Bavaria, a Protestant, as Holy Roman Emperor, by Bohemia's rebellious Protestants over the Hapsburg candidate, Ferdinand of Austria, a Catholic, which rapidly grew into an European struggle between Protestantism and Catholicism called the "Thirty Years' War" (1618-1648). King James dispatched troops to fight for his son-in-law, the rival-emperor, in Germany whose electorate, the "Protestant" Palatinate, was occupied by Catholic Spanish troops. King James summoned parliament to meet to raise money to finance the war, but parliament insisted on discussing King James' conduct of foreign policy. Parliament declared that it was proper for the assembly to discuss matters of state, to which King James angrily ordered parliament not to meddle in his prerogative, and sharply reproved the assembly reminding parliament that its privileges were originally granted by the crown and that they were all liable to be revoked by the same authority at any time, and that consultation of his subjects by the king was a matter of royal grace, to which parliament retorted with equal spirit that its jurisdictions were the human-rights of the people. King James believed that the criticism and interference of his policies by parliament infringed on the royal prerogative, and he was right. Meantime, Frederick of Bavaria was defeated in battle outside Prague by his rival Ferdinand of Austria having reigned only one winter [for which he was called "The Winter-King"] and took refuge in The Netherlands at the court of his uncle, Mortiz of Nassau, where he died afterwards leaving his wife Elizabeth [King James' daughter], called "Queen of Hearts," who returned to England, to raise their children, of whom their youngest daughter Sophia was the mother of the future King George I. The whole affair was very embarrassing for King James who meanwhile was trying to arrange a political settlement. Five years later a new parliament eager for war voted to open hostilities with Spain. The next year, James, crippled by arthritis, suffered a stroke and breathed his last breath. King James I died in 1625 (age 59) in the twenty-second year of his reign, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.
CHARLES I "THE MARTYR" succeeded to the throne (age 24) on his father's death in 1625. Charles was very different from his rough and crude father [King James] and was refined, cultured, had elegant manners, and bore himself with the dignity that befits a king. King Charles was an attractive figure and looked the part of a monarch and had considerable personal charm. He was polite, shy, modest, a family-man, religious, and a patron of the arts. The old informality of his father's reign was no longer acceptable at court which itself was elegant and run with ceremony which was almost ritualistic. King Charles was absorbed with court-life and had an active social schedule and was out-of-step with the spirit of the times and unaware of the growing unrest throughout the country that was to topple him until it was too late.
The country from the outset was offended by King Charles' marriage to Princess Henriette-Marie of France, a Catholic. They had nine children, of whom one son and one daughter died in infancy, and one daughter died a small child at age three, which left three sons and three daughters. The queen was mistrusted by the British people for being a foreigner and for her devotion to her religious advisor, a Rasputin-type figure, and for having a catholic confessor in a protestant country. The queen was always a difficult woman, strong-willed, and subject to temper tantrums, and competed for control of the king with the Duke of Buckingham whom King Charles had kept on as Secretary-of-State [Prime-Minister].
Not only had Charles inherited the war with Spain but soon he became involved in a war with France. The war was disastrous for Britain with its armies beaten everywhere in France, and, since the queen was French, each British defeat or set-back was explained by the queen's supposed treachery. The heavy losses in the French War together with dislike of the Duke of Buckingham dragged King Charles into a series of confrontations with parliament. The problem of Buckingham was resolved by his assassination in 1628 by an army-officer, John Felton, at which the queen openly rejoiced now free of her former rival and lost no time in bringing the king under her influence. She found an ally in Thomas Wentworth, the Earl of Strafford, and persuaded the king to appoint him to replace Buckingham as secretary-of-state. Strafford came to be as unpopular as Buckingham had ever been. He made peace with France and Spain which outraged the country. Parliament demanded his removal from office, and King Charles dismissed the assembly and began an eleven-year period of personal rule. King Charles had summoned and dissolved parliament three times in the first four years of his reign, then in 1629 decided to govern without it. To quote: "His intentions were good, however, the majority of his people were antipathetic to ideological notions and religious beliefs." In 1629 the famous scene occurred in parliament portrayed in the movie "Cromwell" when three resolutions hostile to the king were proposed, but the Speaker-of-Parliament refused to allow them brought to a vote, whereupon he was forcibly held in his seat while a favorable vote was passed by acclamation, and, also the scene of the "Black-Rod" knocking on the door of the House demanding admission. The radicals in parliament had gone too far. There was a public reaction in the king's favor, and King Charles was able to dissolve parliament without difficulty. King Charles reminded parliament that the assembly was altogether in his power for its calling, sitting, and dissolution. Though, technically the king was right, yet it was unwise of him to arrogantly remind the members of parliament that they were his servants, which offended their pride.
The country was peaceful and prosperous during the eleven years of the king's personal rule, however, during those eleven years the king enjoyed a false sense of security, delighting in his family and his patronage of the arts. It was the king's efforts to raise money without parliament that alienated the public and eventually government came to be so difficult that the king was pressured into calling another parliament to convene. It was called "the short parliament" because it sat for only three weeks. It would not co-operate with King Charles and raised constitutional questions, and the king promptly dismissed it. King Charles' attempt to impose episcopalism in Scotland and Ireland to conform their churches with English churches caused uprisings against the ordered changes. This, and a financial crisis, and soon the king was obliged to convene another parliament. It was called "the long parliament" because it sat for twenty years, for King Charles had to agree that he would not dissolve this parliament against its will which was an unthinkable surrender of the royal prerogative, for parliament had never before had independent power since it could neither assemble nor adjourn without express royal command and it now had a weapon by which it could confront the king.
Here King Charles encountered the same troubles with parliament as his father [King James] over the British constitution. The British Constitution was or is not a written constitution, though parts of it is made up of all the charters, statutes, contracts, edicts, ordinances, decrees, judicial decisions, proclamations, and enactments or laws made by all the English kings throughout English History. The British Constitution is, simply, the system of government now in force in Britain, which system has been in force in Britain for over a thousand years! The revolutionary concept of "human rights" was relatively new in Britain, while the king was convinced of his "divine right" and believed in the Bible as testimony of it derived from various scriptures. He saw himself in the role of an "indulgent nursing father" to his subjects, but by then the notion of "human-rights" had permeated English culture shaping the country's thought on the doctrine of "divine right," by which the mystical destiny of the king under God gave him sovereign power in governing his subjects. The reasoning was that if there were no God then who or what gave Charles Stuart a mandate to rule. It was inconceivable to him that the crown could have lost any prerogative, which could be clearly shown to have once belonged to the crown. King Charles regarded the constitutional advance which had been going on since the signing of the "Magna Charta" as infringements on the rights of the crown which some of his predecessors had been forced to surrender and believed that no sovereign right could be irrevocably resigned by a monarch and that the crown still possessed all of its customary powers and that any powers delegated to parliament may be recalled by the crown at any time, for theoretically the crown is not subject to constitutional development since the crown claims a "divine right."
The "long parliament" enacted a reversal of most of the king's policies and imposed controls on the king and brought on trials and executions of royal advisors, which King Charles regarded as treason. The royal government disintegrated at that point and many of the king's ministers fled the country (1641). Stafford, the king's secretary-of-state, was arrested, tried, and sentenced to death by parliament. King Charles refused to consent to his execution but in the face of menacing crowds demonstrating outside the palace and popular outcry against Stafford the king was pressured into giving in at Strafford's own urging. The monarchy briefly regained popularity following Strafford's execution to the alarm of parliament which countered with the "Grand Remonstrance" [201 objections to the way the king had been running the country] and presented the king with "Nineteen Propositions" which aimed at removing all of his powers. It was the rumors that parliament might impeach the queen that moved King Charles to attempt to regain control by arresting five of his most outspoken critics, and committed the unprecedented act of entering the House of Commons. The scheme misfired totally, for his critics "were forewarned and had already made their escape." The fiasco made the king appear to be a tyrant attempting to deprive the people of their freedoms and galvanized public opinion against him. King Charles' popularity deteriorated with surprising speed and the probable danger to the royal family obliged the king and queen and their children to leave London (1642). It was humiliating for the royal family on leaving the palace having to pass through angry crowds of people many holding placards proclaiming "Liberty." The next few months the population of the country was polarized between those supporting the king and those supporting parliament. Those supporting the king were made up of the nobility, country gentlemen, and citizens of cathedral towns; while those supporting parliament were made up mostly of the merchant class and people from industrial towns. King Charles set-up his headquarters at Nottingham and called for volunteers to re-impose his authority; and parliament called for its own volunteers to defend itself and maintain its position which began the English Civil War between the king and parliament (1642-1645). The parliamentarians [called "roundheads"] under Oliver Cromwell defeated the royalists [called "cavaliers"] in two major battles, one at Marston Moor (1644) and the other at Naseby (1645), and captured the king who was betrayed into their hands by his own subjects [for 400,000 pounds]. King Charles was held under arrest while the queen with her youngest daughter escaped to France. The king lost the "Civil War"; but parliament lost also, for it before long was overthrown by a military dictatorship. To quote: "the victory of parliament saw the emergence in England of a strong Anglo-Saxon bias, such that British History before the Anglo-Saxon Conquest was ignored, and even ARTHUR was called 'King of England' by writers."
Parliament which was now in control of the country tried to compromise with the king whom it held a prisoner in Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight, but King Charles remained adamant on all points which touched his "clear conscience." The king was a prisoner for three years (1646-1649) while parliament debated on what to do with him, and at length decided by vote to make a settlement with the king. That sparked "Pride's Purge" by which the army's radical republican officers took over the government by a coup and purged parliament of its opponents and stopped all dealings with the king. Thomas Pride, an army-colonel, under Cromwell's command, with a squad of soldiers, expelled the members of parliament who had been in favor of a settlement with the king, and its remaining members, called "the rump parliament," was controlled by mutinous radical army-officers under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell, who rose to supreme power. After much debate, "the Rump" brought charges against the king. King Charles was brought to London, and put on trial in Westminster Hall before a revolutionary-tribunal of 135 judges illegally appointed by "The Rump." The trial of the king by a "kangaroo court" was a farce to say the least. The king refused to recognize the legality of any court which could constitutionally try him and declined to plea or answer any charges brought against him, for King Charles believed that he was under none but God to whom alone he was accountable and was not accountable to his subjects. [If that were true then it may be argued that it is also true that kings have obligations before God including that to rule well even though there is no recognized legal means by which a king could be corrected or removed if he failed to discharge his obligations at least passably well, however, in such cases practical measures could be exerted on a monarch as they have been on previous occasions.] The revolutionary-tribunal was infuriated by the king's attitude, and was enraged at the stupidity of the king's supporters, who would not admit its right to try the king; and, it condemned King Charles to death as "a tyrant and public enemy." He was found guilty by a majority of one vote [68 to 67]. King Charles bore himself throughout the trial in such a calm and dignified manner that he compelled respect from the public and even from many of his enemies and was able to turn public opinion around in his favor and establish himself as a martyr in the eyes of the people and make Cromwell and his officers look like murderers; and, made "divine right" the symbol of the contrast between right and might, between man's favor and God's justice. The wife of one of the signatories of King Charles' death-warrant wrote: "men wondered how so good a man could be so bad a king." The morning of his execution King Charles awoke early and was overheard by his guards to have said to his valet that he had "a great work" to do that day. The king walked accompanied by a squad of soldiers from St. James' Palace [where he was last confined] to Whitehall Palace, where a scaffold had been erected in the square outside the Banquet House. It is written that when the executioner asked the king for the customary pardon before raising the axe, the king replied: "I forgive no subject of mine who comes deliberately to shed my blood." The king thought that his execution was an act against God due to various Bible scriptures. Then, turning to the crowds that had come to watch the spectacle, he said: "I go from a corruptible to an incorruptible crown, where no disturbance can be." Then, turning to the executioner's block the last word he was heard to utter as he glanced at the chaplain was "remember." King Charles I was beheaded (age 48) on a scaffold erected outside Whitehall Palace in London before a crowd of thousands on the 30th of January 1649, in the twenty-fourth year of his reign. Charles, called "The Martyr King," was the only reigning British monarch to be put on trial and executed by his own people. Charles always behaved like a king and met his execution with dignity and courage. The crowd was heard to have made a terrible groan the moment the axe struck which was followed by an awful silence and then a howl of horror as his severed head was held up and shown to the masses. A wild uproar followed as people pressed forward to soak their handkerchiefs with the royal blood, and the cult of "The Martyr King" began. Troops then moved in and dispersed the crowds. Later that day, Cromwell, who claimed to be a religious man, looked on the king's body as it lay in its coffin in the Chapel Royal at St. James' Palace and was heard to have said "cruel necessity," but was unable to square it with the Bible scripture: "who can put forth his hand against the Lord's Anointed and be guiltless" (1 Sam. 26:9b). Public mourning was banned by parliament; but by his great eloquence during his trial and his superb dignity on the scaffold King Charles saved the monarchy at the loss of his life. The head of King Charles was sewn back onto his body and he was buried in utmost secrecy in the royal crypt in St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle [7 Feb.]. A fall of snow turned the black velvet pall white, which his supporters claimed was a sign from Heaven declaring his innocence. The execution of the king had repercussions in Britain lasting for generations. There were comparisons even made between King Charles and Christ.
note: the interregnum
All Europe was horrified at the news of the execution of King Charles I of Britain, by his own subjects; and all the European governments immediately recognized his heir, Charles, the Prince of Wales, as King CHARLES II, which was in accordance to "international law." The execution of King Charles I unleashed a flood of revolutionary activity in Britain which engulfed the country. Royal tombs were pillaged; and even chapels, churches, and cathedrals were sacked and torn apart and became quarries from which stones were taken to build other structures. Hyde Abbey was destroyed and the tomb of Alfred "The Great" [reckoned England's first king] was desecrated, and his corpse was left lying on the floor in the ruins of the abbey. Even the tomb of King Arthur [reckoned Britain's first king] at Gloucester Cathedral was desecrated, and it is not known what became of his remains. Britain was declared a republic by "The Rump," which abolished the monarchy and for the first time in over a thousand years Britain had no king. The effect was initially to produce bewilderment and then skepticism on the part of the British people towards the traditions they had revered in the past. The royal palace was left empty and neglected while the royal family was scattered abroad in foreign capitals. Queen Henriette-Marie was in France with her youngest daughter, Princess Henriette-Anne, where she was soon joined by one of her sons, Prince James, who escaped captivity by parliament. The queen and her children were the guests of her sister-in-law [her brother's widow], Anne of Austria, who was Regent of France for her young son King Louis XIV, a minor. Charles, the Prince of Wales, her oldest living son, was at first in Holland at The Hague where he was the guest of his eldest sister, Mary, the Princess-Royal, the widow of the late William [II] of Orange, the "Stradholder" of The Dutch Republic, the mother of the future King William III of England. Prince Henry, the youngest son, and Princess Elizabeth, the second daughter of the late king and Queen Henriette-Marie, were still held prisoners by parliament. Princess Elizabeth died in captivity, and Prince Henry was eventually ransomed and joined his mother in France yet in poor health due to the neglect of his jailors died soon afterwards.
Charles, the Prince of Wales (age 18), now found himself the leader of the exiled royalists and proclaimed himself king as CHARLES II. Charles returned to Britain and rallied support, however, the royalist movement was brutally crushed by Oliver Cromwell and King [or Prince] Charles was a fugitive in his own country with a price on his head for six weeks hiding in orchards, ditches, and once narrowly escaped capture while hiding in an oak-tree before he could escape back to the European continent. Many royalists fled Britain during this troubled period and some came to America. The colonies at first refused to recognized the authority of the revolutionary government which had taken over the mother-country for according to current political doctrine no government could legally command obedience without a divine mandate which only the crown could claim. Every colony, except Massachusetts, recognized Prince Charles as King Charles II after his father's execution, and Virginia even sent deputies to Europe to invite the Royal Family to come to America and reign over the colonies until their restoration in the mother-islands, but Cromwell, after crushing the royalists in Ireland, whose wholesale slaughter he said was "the judgment of God" upon the people (1649); and smashing the royalists in Scotland (1650-1), who were sheltering the young Prince of Wales, who escaped to the European continent; then, sent a fleet and soldiers across the Atlantic and forced the American colonies to submit and recognize the republic (1652).
Parliament was unable to cope with the country's chaotic condition, and a schism developed between the military and parliament in 1653, and, Oliver Cromwell, who had lost patience with parliament in much the same way as he had with King Charles, with a squad of soldiers, closed parliament, dismissed its shocked members, dissolved the republic [called "The Commonwealth"], and established in its place a military dictatorship [called "The Protectorate"], with himself as supreme ruler. Oliver Cromwell was installed in office in Westminster Hall, upon the coronation-chair of the British monarchs, which was taken there from Westminster Abbey for that purpose. Oliver Cromwell ruled Britain and Ireland with an iron hand for the next five years as a dictator with the title of "Protector." No sooner had Oliver Cromwell subdued the American colonies (1652) than he involved Britain [and its colonies] in the "First Dutch War" (1652-54). After the war, Oliver Cromwell devoted his energies into establishing a totally different state, and issued the country a written constitution, the "Instrument of Government" (1655), by which Britain was divided into military-districts, each ruled by a major-general; but the next year in 1656 he abolished the rule of the major-generals, and ruled alone. There were three protectorate parliaments, 1654-5, 1656, 1657-8, which were no more than Oliver Cromwell's "rubber-stamp." It even offered Oliver Cromwell the crown in 1657, which horrified the nation and turned the nation's thoughts back to the Royal Family in exile. Oliver Cromwell, of course, refused the offer in the face of public opinion; and died the following year in 1658. The night of Oliver Cromwell's death [3 Sep.] a terrible wind-storm tore through Britain uprooting trees and destroying property which was said to have been the Devil come to take Oliver Cromwell's soul. His son Richard Cromwell took over after him but was incompetent and after only eight months the old "rump" gathered again and compelled him to resign. The quarrel between parliament and the military was renewed in 1659 by Army-General John Lambert, who by a coup closed parliament, expelled "The Rump," and set up a committee of public safety as a provisional-government for the nation. The military split at this point and Army-General George Monck [the later Duke of Albemarle] intervened on the side of parliament and marched against Lambert who moved to check Monck's advance but his troops mutinied and General Monck entered London and declared in favor of a free parliament. The old "rump" hurried back to their seats and issued writs for a general election and dissolved itself and thus passed away the notable "long parliament."
The new assembly met a month later and was termed a "convention" or the "convention-parliament," because it was called to meet without royal summons. For, only the monarch can summon, or prorogue, and/or dissolve parliament, which fundamentally is a royal institution originating in the royal court of the medieval English monarchs. The convention debated on what to do for three months while public opinion was steadily growing toward a restoration of the monarchy. The convention opened negotiations with the king in exile. Charles agreed to pardon everyone except for the regicides who had signed his father's death-warrant [of whom there were fifty-nine still living], and parliament for its part handed back to the crown all the constitutional concessions granted by the late king so that Charles could be restored with no specific conditions with the powers of the crown intact. The convention declared Charles king Year 1660 and invited King Charles to return to his kingdom, and dispatched a fleet of ships to Holland to convey the king back home from exile. Royalist fever gripped the country in anticipation of the king‘s return, and King Charles entered London whose streets were strewn with flowers, receiving a tremendous welcome from large ecstatic cheering crowds amid a scene of almost hysterical enthusiasm with church bells ringing, fanfares of trumpets, and volleys of cannon fire shot. The procession from the city's gates, where he was received by the city's mayor and the country's government officials and military officers giving him endless congratulations, to the royal palace took seven hours. Bonfires blazed every night for weeks on hill-tops throughout the country amid the festivities celebrating the return of the king.
CHARLES II, called "THE MERRY MONARCH", for his easy-going and fun-loving nature, was one of Britain's most attractive, sophisticated, and educated kings, however, the vicissitudes of the past thirty years had made him into a cynic. He back-dated his reign from his father's execution, for from a royalist point of view he had been king ever since his father's death. The execution of his father in 1649 made Charles, the Prince of Wales, "de jure" ["in right"] king (age 18), though he did not become "de facto" ["in fact"] king until his proclamation eleven years later in 1660 by the "convention parliament" (age 29). He was crowned on St. George's Day [23 Apr., 1661] by William Juxon, the Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, who had been his father's chaplain. King Charles sought to give the country stability by granting universal forgiveness, but the reactionary mood in parliament wanted revenge and brought on the trials of the surviving regicides. Twenty-eight regicides were hung and the eighteen remaining were spared by King Charles who grew tired of the hangings and wanted them to stop. Parliament even went so far as to have Oliver Cromwell's body dug up, dragged through the streets to Tyburn where it hung on the gallows for a long time, and was later cut down and decapitated and his head hung outside Westminster Palace [where parliament meets] for the next twenty-five years. His body was drawn and quartered and the mutilated remains were buried in Red Lion Square, Holborn. His head passed from one to another over the centuries, during which it was often put on public display in a "freak-show" in county-fairs, until 1992 when it was finally buried in College Chapel, Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge; around the time that the Windsor Castle fire took place.
The king was restored to the throne with his hands free and that meant the points at issue that had brought down his father remained unresolved and were to dominate British politics for the next thirty years.
Like his father King Charles avoided calling parliament to meet, and his imitation of his father's absolutism led to renewed tensions between the king and parliament. King Charles appointed Edward Hyde, the Earl of Clarendon, as his chancellor. Hyde had been Charles' chief advisor during his exile. His disapproval however of the king's succession of mistresses was an irritation to King Charles, who watched for an opportunity to dismiss him. Hyde was made the scapegoat for the unpopularity of the "Second Dutch War" (1665-67), which went badly for Britain, which was caused by commercial rivalry between The Netherlands and Britain. Hyde was impeached by parliament, and King Charles appointed a five-man "cabal" to run the country. The "Cabal" [ = an acronym for five ministers, namely: (1) Clifford, Thomas; (2) Arlington, Henry; (3) Buckingham, the Duke of, that is, George Villiers; (4) Ashley, Anthony; and (5) Lauderdale, John]. The "Third Dutch War" (1672-74) brought down the government of the "Cabal," after which King Charles called parliament to convene. It was during this period that the practice arose for the king to consult a few important ministers about the affairs of state in his private apartment or "cabinet," which was continued to be used as a governmental-instrument by his successors, and developed into maturity during the co-reigns of William and Mary, such that by the time of Queen Anne the term "cabinet" came into use, and the modern form of "cabinet-government" was born.
Tall, good-looking, and charming, King Charles II had thick curly raven black hair that he wore long over his shoulders. He owed his dark and swarthy appearance to his mother's Italian ancestry. Charles, dignified, cultured, and refined, looked and acted like a king. He was witty, intelligent, and out-going. It was said of him that "he never said a foolish thing and never did a wise one." King Charles was accused of laziness, womanizing, and indulgence but was very serious about politics. He loved sports and was fond of horse-back riding, swimming, and long solitary walks. King Charles was a patron of the arts and sciences. He founded the Royal Society as a form for the country's most eminent men to air their views, which became the world's foremost scientific society.
He and his queen, Catherine of Braganza, a Portugese princess, lived separately. The queen chose to live at Somerset House rather than in the royal palace, where she continued to reside after her husband's death. She later returned to Portugal to act as regent for her brother, King Pedro II, who was in poor health. His queen, Catherine, did become pregnant and miscarry at least three times, and was childless, however, King Charles II acknowledged 8 sons and 5 daughters out of 16 illegitimate children by seven women of his known thirteen mistresses, who claimed King Charles as the father, whom the queen treated with kindness. His most famous mistresses were Lucy Walter [mother of James Crofts, the Duke of Monmouth, ancestor of the Dukes of Buccleuch], Barbara Villiers, the Countess of Castlemaine [mother of Henry FitzRoy, ancestor of the Dukes of Grafton], Louise de Keroualle, who was a secret agent acting for King Louis XIV of France the whole time [mother of Charles Lennox, ancestor of the Dukes of Richmond-Lennox], Hortense Mancini [Cardinal Mazarin's niece], and the famous Nell Gwynne, an actress whom he met at the theatre [the mother of Charles Bleauclerk, ancestor of the Dukes of St. Albans]. Her story is told in the movie "Forever Amber." The most prominent of King Charles' illegitimate sons was James Crofts, the Duke of Monmouth [ancestor of the Montagu-Douglas-Scott family], who was a popular favorite of the British people and was favored by parliament as a possible heir over King Charles' unpopular brother, Prince James, the Duke of York, the next in line, who had become a Catholic during his exile. Parliament introduced an act to exclude Prince James from the succession, and King Charles immediately dismissed the assembly and never called it back into sessions again during his reign.
The country was divided over the possible succession of a Roman Catholic, and the excitement ran so high that the country was on the verge of civil war by the time of King Charles' death. In 1683 the "Rye House Plot" to assassinate King Charles was foiled, and its conspirators were executed for treason. King Charles II had a stroke in 1685 and died a few days later (age 54), apologizing for taking so long to die, in the twenty-fifth [or thirty-sixth] year of his reign, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. He received the last rites of the Catholic Church on his deathbed, and became a Catholic. Though, his queen was barren, he was survived by numerous illegitimate children of his numerous mistresses.
JAMES II succeeded to the throne (age 52) on his brother's death in 1685. Unlike his good-natured, down-to-earth, and warm-hearted brother [Charles II], King James II was dour, aloof, and cold. He was "arrogant, conceited, stubborn, bigoted, tactless, and humorless"; and he had a cynical sneer that spoiled his good-looks. King James II was one of the least liked of the long line of British monarchs. His succession was dreaded by the whole country because he was a Roman Catholic, but the fact that his two daughters, Mary and Anne, were Protestants and were married to Protestants kept the country satisfied for it insured the continuation of Protestantism in England. Mary and Anne were his only surviving children of his first wife Anne Hyde, daughter of the Earl of Clarendon, who had died before his succession, and King James at the time of his succession did not have any surviving children of his queen Mary of Modena [Marie d'Este], his second wife, a Roman Catholic, who was believed to have been barren. Thus, his elder daughter, Princess Mary, was the heir-presumptive to the throne. The first six months of his reign King James II so antagonized public opinion that it gave rise to the rebellion of the Duke of Monmouth [the late king's eldest illegitimate son], the favored claimant to the throne by parliament; but it was put down by royal troops in battle at Sedgmoor. Monmouth was captured, tried, and executed. His supporters were tried in a series of trials known as the "Bloody Assizes," presided over by the infamous Judge Jeffreys, who executed 320 as conspirators, and sentenced 800 others to life in prison. King James appointed Roman Catholics to high offices in the government, and as officers in the military, and imposed Roman Catholic masters in the universities. Parliament quarreled with the king over this; and King James prorogued it, and never called parliament to convene again during his reign. King James issued the "Declaration of Indulgence" which suspended all laws against Roman Catholics and Non-Conformists [Puritans], which was seen by the Protestants as another step at restoring Roman Catholicism in England. The news that the queen was expecting a child in 1688 was greeted with dismay by the Protestants, who feared that she may produce a son. The unexpected birth of a male-heir, James Francis Edward, styled "Prince of Wales," in 1688, who automatically superseded King James' daughters Princess Mary and Princess Anne in the line of succession, and, who would be raised a Catholic, brought the threat of a permanent Catholic restoration and produced anti-Catholic hysteria throughout the country which was inflamed by the rumor popularized and spread by Protestant zealots that the new born prince was a changeling, smuggled into the queen's bedchamber by Catholic intriguers in the warming-pan, for which the child was called the "warming-pan baby." There was a public outcry for an inquiry into the facts concerning the birth of the Prince of Wales, and seven prominent nobles [the "Immortal Seven"] sent an urgent invitation to William [III] of Orange, the "Stradholder" of The Netherlands, the husband of King James' elder daughter Princess Mary, to come to England and defend his wife's place in the line of succession, assuring him that the majority of the English people would welcome him. William of Orange took the Dutch Army [in 50 war-ships and 200 transport-ships] to England and landed unopposed and proceeded to march on London whose citizens rose up in his favor. King James mustered some troops to oppose him but his troops mutinied and went over to the other side. King James, frightened by the mutiny of his troops and confused over the desertions of his ministers, panicked and fled the country [11 Dec. 1688], and, along with his wife and infant son, was given refuge by King Louis XIV of France. Meantime, William of Orange entered London and took up residence in the palace just vacated by King James. His wife, Mary, King James' daughter, appeared callous at her father's downfall and behaved rather badly in her frank pleasure as she ran from room to room in the royal palace jumping up and down on the beds with glee.
The English people readily received William of Orange who was considered a hero of Protestantism throughout Europe. William of Orange, occupying London with the Dutch Army, which was one of Europe's strongest at that time, briefly exercised a military dictatorship in the absence of a lawful government in place. Soon, after meetings with British leaders, William called for a "convention parliament" to meet. It was called a "convention," because it assembled without royal summons. The "convention" met early in 1689 and debated if William should become regent governing in the name of the absent king [James II], or if the assembly could legally depose King James, and, if so, should James' daughter Mary become queen in her own right with William as her consort, or whether William should rule himself in right of conquest? The ridiculous "contract theory" concocted by John Locke to refute Robert Filmer's book "Patriarcha," provided the theoretical justification by which the convention could justify its illegal deposition of an anointed king ordained by God with a divine mandate. The convention declared that King James had broken that "supposed" contract and thereby was no longer king, and that "the throne was vacant." [To quote a political scientist: "no theory of government has ever been more untrue to the facts of life than Locke‘s 'contract delusion'."] Two weeks later the convention offered the throne jointly to William and Mary [for Mary wished to associate her husband with her in her reign] on the condition of their assenting to a petition of rights, that is, the "Declaration of Rights" [enacted by parliament as the "Bill of Rights"], which the convention drew up and its leaders read to the couple and which William and Mary were obliged to sign. The document was a contract with the crown to ensure that henceforth no monarch could govern except through parliament, and under the rule of law. Here, is introduced the term "the monarch-in-parliament," which then became the formal title of the British legislature, which comprises three elements: (1) the monarch; (2) the House of Lords [Peers]; and, (3) the House of Commons. This surrender of royal authority by the crown changed the British constitution, and the monarchy. Upon their mutual acceptance of the terms of the contract the convention proclaimed the couple king and queen as King WILLIAM III and Queen MARY II, and they reigned together as co-sovereigns [12 Feb. 1689]. It was not an unique constitutional agreement, for Queen Mary I of England and King Philip II of Spain also reigned as co-sovereigns. Their coronation combined the traditional pageantry of the past with the revolutionary new oaths of constitutional monarchy; and for the first time in English History the monarchs swore an oath that they would govern according to the country's laws. To his credit, Sancroft, the Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, refused to crown them, and they were crowned by Henry Compton, the Bishop of London. The petition or "Declaration of Rights" enacted as the "Bill of Rights" granted by William and Mary was the ancestor document of the U.S.A.'s "Bill of Rights." It was the beginning of "civil liberties" in Britain.
The events of 1688-89 came to be called the "Bloodless Revolution." The "Bloodless Revolution" was not a national movement but a constitutional change effected by a "bloodless" coup by the "Immortal Seven," seven leading figures, who hijacked the monarchy for parliament. The struggle was essentially between two conflicting conceptions of monarchy: (a) "divine right," the view that kings are chosen by God to whom alone they are accountable, and that kings rule by the spoken "WORD" as vessels of God's Spirit; versus (b) election, the view that the succession was no longer in God's Hands but may be regulated by the subjects/people through their representatives in parliament, and that the monarch's right rested on his/her willingness to rule according to the nation's laws. The monarchy survived although in a very different form, for "absolute monarchy" was replaced with "constitutional monarchy," which is a monarchy in which the sovereign governs according to law, rather than arbitrarily yielding to be the vessel through whom God governs. The revolution also marks the end of the "divine right" doctrine in England, but the doctrine which relied so heavily on the Bible and legendary history for its authority was bound to suffer damage in the "Age of Reason," which doubted the authenticity of the Bible as well as the historical basis of the legend of King Arthur and the episode of "The Sword In The Stone," which legendary episode, or "origin-story," gives the British Monarchy its "divine right." The doctrine of "divine right" is supported by scripture, for example: Deut. 17:15, authorizes kingship; 1 Chr. 29:23 equates the dynasty's throne to the "Throne of God-Almighty" Himself; and, Isaiah 33:22 vests the executive, legislative, and judicial powers of the state in the person of the king, or the monarch alone.
note: The doctrine of the "divine right of kings" made obedience to the king a religious duty on the part of the people; to oppose the will of the king, the will of "the Son of God," was unthinkable. The 1641, 1688, and 1776 rebellions were over "human rights," however, the whole idea is a fantasy, for Jesus [whom the monarch represents] says "we are not our own, for are bought with a price" (1 Cor. 6:19b-20a), His Sacrifice, hence, we actually have no rights but belong to Him as His subjects in His service in whom we are all united as one people. The essence of the sin of the rebellions of 1641, 1688, and 1776, was to presume upon God's will. And, even if the British kings Charles I "The Martyr" (1641), James II (1688), or George III (1776) had been the tyrants that those generations have made them out to be, still to question the king's authority was in essence to question God's purpose. Those kings each had a "mandate" from the Creator (God), called "divine-right," therefore, the 1641, 1688, and 1776 generations should have obeyed their sovereign in all things. The consequence of those rebellions has been to delay God's purpose, however, those rebellions could not stop God's purpose, which He continues to work out in human history. [see: "Three British Revolutions: 1641, 1688, 1776," ed. by J.G.A. Pocock (1980).] It follows that the monarch is considered inviolable, held in reverence, and shown every courtesy by his people. The monarch was distinguished from everyone else, as having been anointed with holy oil making him a sacred person. It was regarded as a grievous offense to lay a hand on him. And, to overthrow the monarch was rebellion of the most heinous sort and an affront to God who had set the monarch on the throne. If we accept that monarchs are ordained by God, then does this mean that we should accept the rule of the descendants of whoever God originally gave the mandate to. The parliament was originally a part of the royal court, but the English generalissimo, Simon Montfort, who held King Henry III and the Royal Family captive, introduced democracy andmade parliament a separate institution, which it has been since. The doctrine of the "divine right" of kings is one of the subjects of medieval English art works; for example, in one medieval picture the figure of Christ is shown enthroned in majesty in Heaven while below on Earth the English king appears surrounded by his court which is suppose to illustrate the divine origin of the monarchy; and, in another, the English king is depicted enthroned and an angel is hovering above setting the crown on his head, which is suppose to symbolize divine sanction; then, in still another, the king appears face to face with God from whom He receives the sacred emblems of royalty which is suppose to illustrate the divine origin of royal authority. Later generations of the subjects of British Crown rejected the holy scripture in the matter of the "divine right of kings" and invented the "contract theory" to justify the rebellions of 1641, 1688, and 1776.
Meantime, King James II in exile in France rejected the "bogus" theory that there was a contract between the king and the people which he had broken forfeiting the throne and maintained that he was still king and had departed England without forfeiting any rights for he had not signed away anything, and made plans to return to England and retake the throne. According to the article "King and Constitution in International Law," by Stephen P. Kerr-y-Baca, in "Chivalry," vol. IV, No. 1, issue # 13, pp 48-54, James II was still king, that is, he had the support of "international law" on his side. Too, Guy Stair Sainty's excellent article "The Royal Prerogative, its Use by the Heirs to Former Thrones, and By Republican or Revolutionary Regimes," posted on the internet at www.chivalricorders.org/royalty/main2.htm, give precedents which may be applied to King James II's case. King James raised an army in Ireland, which was still loyal to him, and summoned parliament to convene in Dublin. He charged more than 2000 people with treason by an act of attainder which caused him to loose what support he had at all in England. William III set out against James II and landed in Ireland and defeated King James in the Battle of Boyne in 1690. The next year, 1691, the Battle of Aughrim sealed King James' fate; and King James fled back to France. King James made another attempt to retake the throne in 1692 with French ships and soldiers which failed with the destruction of his fleet in a naval battle off La Hogue. The victory of William of Orange in Ireland against King James' supporters was marred by the terrible massacre at Glencoe in 1692. King James II made a third attempt at restoration in 1696 but it also was a failure.
The dispossessed King James II set up a rival court in exile. His supporters were called "Jacobites," derived from "Jacobus," the Latin for "James." The political doctrine of the Jacobite Court was the "Divine Right of Kings," that is, that the king holds his authority directly from God, not that this authority has been delegated to the king by "the people," or parliament, or the pope. King James and his queen had one more child, a daughter, Louise, born to them in exile. King James of a mistress also had two illegitimate sons [one of whom was the ancestor of the FitzJames-Stuart Family] and an illegitimate daughter [an ancestress of Princess Diana Spencer]. The Court of "Saint" James was a government in exile. It was visited by ambassadors from nations worldwide. [Philip M. Brown, the international lawyer, in his article "Sovereignty in Exile," in "American Journal of International Law," vol. 35 (1941), pp 666-668, compares the situation to sending ambassadors to eighth legitimate sovereigns and governments-in-exile, driven from their countries during World War Two. See, also, F.E. Oppenheimer's important article, "Governments and Authorities in Exile," supra., pp 581-2.] King James II died in exile some years later (age 68) and was buried in the Church of the English Benedictines in the Rue St-Jacques, Paris. His grave was desecrated during the French Revolution, 1790s; but his body was later in 1813 re-interred in the parish church of St. Germain-en-Layein by order of The Prince Regent when the allies occupied Paris following the "Napoleonic Wars." King James' son, the "warming-pan baby" [so-called], James Francis Edward, the Prince of Wales, age 13, declared himself his father's successor upon his father's death in 1701 (age 68) and styled himself king as JAMES III, though in Britain he was referred to as "The Pretender."
WILLIAM III (age 38) and MARY II (age 26) ascended to the British throne as co-sovereigns in 1689 on the deposition of Mary's father and their proclamation by the "convention parliament." The hereditary principle was just maintained by the pretense that King James II had "abdicated" by his symbolic act of throwing the "great-seal of state" into the Thames River at the time of his flight out of the country [for which a case may be made] and that the so-called "warming-pan baby" was a changeling and not really his son, which no one really believed though it was a convenient story for parliament to justify debarring him from the throne. King William III and Queen Mary II were cousins as well as husband and wife. He was the son of William of Orange and the ex-king's [James'] sister, Mary, the Princess-Royal; and Queen Mary II was King James II's elder daughter. Thus, William of Orange was next in line to the throne after Mary's sister Anne and would have become king in his own right if he had of outlived Anne. However, it was the presence of Mary on the throne that gave the "Bloodless Revolution" the support of those who were otherwise opposed to it. William of Orange, described as a dull, restrained, and cool man, was gifted with great military and political ability. Queen Mary, in contrast, was a warm and sweet-natured woman and a loving wife completely devoted to her husband. The marriage of William III and Mary II was happy but childless. She miscarried on at least two occasions.
The union of Britain and Holland was effected by the succession of William III, the "Stradholder" ["President"] of Holland [the Dutch Republic], to the British throne. It was a personal union, and the union dissolved upon his death. King William III was Britain's only monarch of the House of Nassau-Orange. The present House of Orange is actually a branch of the House of Nassau. The Dynasty of Nassau, a German noble house, inherited the estate and title of the Dynasty of Orange, a French noble house, upon its extinction in the sixteenth century. The "adoptive" heir was William "The Silent" of Nassau, who inherited the principality of Orange, in southern France, but his main interests were the Netherlands, where he was at first a provincial governor of the Holy Roman Empire, and then led the Dutch in their war for independence from the European Empire, and became the first "Stradholder" ["President"] of The Dutch Republic. The tiny princedom of Orange in France is now included in the French department of Vaucluse. The original House of Orange descended from Gerald "Ademar," one of "The Conqueror's Companions" (1066), who descended from William "Le Cornet," one of Charlemagne's paladins (800), whose father, Theodore [formerly the royal Jewish Prince Makhir of Babylon], was the first Marquis of Narbonne. The House of Orange died out in the male-line in the sixteenth century and was inherited through an heiress by the House of Nassau.
The main concern of William of Orange during his reign was to contain French expansion and to prevent France from dominating Europe. King William III spent much of his time abroad fighting in foreign wars while Queen Mary II remained in Britain and ruled the country in both of their names. She provided good government to Britain which earned her popularity among the British people.
The question arose if Mary died first should William's title lapse and her sister Anne succeed her, or should William remain king as long as he lived? Queen Mary II died of smallpox in 1694 (age 32) in the sixth year of her reign, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. Her funeral was unique, because it was attended by members of parliament, which up until then had always dissolved on the death of a sovereign; but since her husband King William III still reigned as sovereign parliament remained in session. The death of Mary weakened William's position, but he was not willing to step aside and with the Dutch Army still occupying London remained king. The rights of Anne however were safeguarded by the concession that William was an "interim king" and she would take precedence over any children born to William of another wife, if he were to remarry. King William though did not remarry after Queen Mary's death; yet he did take to himself a mistress, Elizabeth Villiers, who had been one of his late wife's "ladies-in-waiting."
The popularity that William of Orange enjoyed in Britain was lost as a result of a series of defeats he suffered on the European continent during the French War (1691-97), and soon the British people began resenting him as a foreign usurper occupying the throne. Public opinion pressured him to send the Dutch Army back to Holland. William of Orange came to be looked upon as a "temporary caretaker" of the country, and parliament did not pass up the opportunity to strengthen its position and made a series of demands on the king, which William had no choice but to grant. To insure that parliament would be summoned annually the assembly limited grants of money to the crown for a single year. This changed parliament from an intermittent to a permanent feature of government. It also began today's regular terms of office. The growth of political parties followed; for, though there had been groups or factions in parliament before, the shortness of its sessions and the long intervals between sessions had not encouraged the development of political parties. The terms "WHIG" and "TORY" came into use. The "Whigs" [liberals] supported government by contract or the "constitutional monarchy," while the "Tories" [conservatives] looked forward to the restoration of the proper and divine order, and advocated the return to the old constitution of "absolute monarchy." The king, anxious to preserve his freedom of action, adopted a non-party posture which has been maintained by the Royal Family ever since [with some exceptions]. William of Orange reigned eight years alone after Queen Mary's death; and died from injuries suffered from being thrown off his horse [which stumbled on a mole hill] in 1702 (age 51) in the thirteenth year of his reign. He was buried in Westminster Abbey.
ANNE succeeded to the throne (age 37) on the death of her brother-in-law in 1702. Anne ought to have succeeded on the death of her older sister Queen Mary II, for her brother-in-law King William III had no immediate right except through his wife [Queen Mary II], and after she died had no right to sit on the throne as long as Anne was still alive. It had been suggested that Anne marry her second-cousin George of Hanover [whose mother was the daughter of King Charles I's only sister, Elizabeth, called "Queen of Hearts"], but on his visit to England the couple developed an antipathy for each other and Anne married instead George of Denmark, a Danish prince, who occupied the position of "Prince-Consort." Anne had twelve miscarriages, one stillbirth, and of the five children she had born alive only one survived infancy, a son, Prince William. His premature death at age eleven [after an all-night party with his friends] made the long-term succession uncertain. The next in line after him [excluding the "warming-pan baby," who was debarred from the succession] was Anne's cousin Anne-Marie, the daughter of King James II's sister Henriette-Anne and her husband the French prince Philip of Orleans [the brother of King Louis XIV of France], who was a Catholic. Anne-Marie was married to Victor-Amadeus II, the Duke of Savoy [the later Amadeus I, King of Sardinia], by whom she was the mother of two daughters [and later of a son, the Royal Sardine]. The prospect of a French princess, the wife of a reigning Italian duke, becoming Queen of Britain was unthinkable to the British people, therefore, since Anne was past her child-bearing years, parliament enacted the "Act of Settlement" by which the future descent of the crown was regulated to ensure Protestant succession. It is under this act that the present Royal Family reigns. The act named the princess SOPHIA, the daughter of King Charles I's sister, Elizabeth, a Protestant, as the heiress-presumptive to the British throne, she, and the heirs of her body, passing over a number of others who had better claims to the throne than hers but they were debarred as Catholics. Sophia, said to have been one of the most accomplished ladies in Europe, was alive and hopeful of becoming queen herself in the fullness of time, however, that was not to be. Sophia was an old [yet, still active] woman by this time, though it was not improbable that she would outlive Queen Anne, nevertheless, she had a middle-age son, George-Louis [the future King George I], and a teenage grandson, George-Augustus [the future King George II]. The breach in the succession provided for by the "Act of Settlement" showed that the succession was not based on hereditary right alone, but that the succession could be altered by statute in certain cases. The succession was hereditary only in the sense that the occupants of the throne had to be a direct bloodline descendant of the royal house. The principle of primogeniture was made indecisive by the "Act of Settlement" even though it was the fundamental principle of the succession, and ended the accompanying idea of automatic succession which had given rise to the theory that the sovereign never dies, that is, from the moment of the death of a monarch, the hereditary heir is simultaneously in place as the successor, as expressed in the phrase: "the king is dead, long live the king!" The diversion of the succession by parliament confirmed the rejection of the "divine right" doctrine of an "absolute monarchy" in favor of a "constitutional monarchy." The precedence in the Bible of the elevation of King Jehoahaz to the throne [over other members of the royal family who had better claims to the throne than his] by the "people of the land" [2 Ki. 23:30b], that is, the Jewish Knesset [whether or not it was legal for the Knesset to do so is unanswered in scripture], was cited by Parliament as its authorization for interfering in the succession.
Most of Queen Anne's reign was occupied by war (1702-13), for within two months of her succession war was declared on France and peace was only concluded thirteen months before her death. Queen Anne, after the death of the Prince-Consort, George of Denmark (age 55), came under the influence of her mistress-of-the-wardrobe, Sarah Jennings, the wife of John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough. The victories of the Duke of Marlborough in the wars on the European continent were to be the glory of Queen Anne's reign, which established Britain as the world's major power. Queen Anne and her circle of close friends made up the war-group. Their policy was for a balance of power in Europe. The French Army was defeated by Marborough in a series of battles at Blenheim (1704), Ramillies (1706), Oudenarde (1708), and Malplaquet (1709), which broke the military power of France, and there seemed nothing to stop him from marching on Paris, however, that humiliation was spared King Louis XIV of France by the sudden change of Queen Anne's councils which deprived Marlborough of power and led to peace with France. That came about due to a falling-out between the queen and Sarah, Marlborough's wife, who became too confident of her position. Sarah, who was bossy, lost her influence over the queen to her cousin Abigail Hill whom she had herself introduced to the queen. Abigail came to gain as complete influence over the queen as Sarah had once herself, and in her rivalry with her cousin she brought about the abandonment of the policies of Sarah and Marlborough and their friends, and secured the recall of Marlborough in disgrace (1711). Abigail was the second-cousin of the leading Tory politician, Robert Harley, whose appointment as "prime minister" was engineered by her, however, their schemes caused the Queen so much embarrassment that she was soon forced to dismiss Harley and distance herself from Abigail and her friends. The rivalry between the WHIGS and the TORIES in parliament was a feature of Queen Anne's reign. Parliament came to be so unruly that little business was done, "and Queen Anne began attending its sessions in person in the hope that her presence might calm tempers." The "United Kingdom" was created in 1707 by Queen Anne, which politically unified England, Wales, Scotland, into a British Nation. It was a political move to avoid a divided succession and thereby remaining under one British crown. Queen Anne, very unhappy, got fat and stayed drunk the last year of her life, and, crippled with gout, died in 1714 (age 49) in the twelfth year of her reign. She was buried in Westminster Abbey. Queen Anne was the last Stuart monarch.
GEORGE I LOUIS (age 53) succeeded his second-cousin Queen Anne on the throne upon her death in 1714 in accordance with the "Act of Settlement, which had made his mother, SOPHIA, the heiress to the British throne after the premature death of Queen Anne's only living son Prince William-Henry at age eleven. Electress Sophia however died two months before Queen Anne and therefore her son George [whose father, Ernest-Augustus of Hanover, was a German prince] succeeded to the throne as the next heir. The transition from the House of Stuart to the House of Hanover would have seemed less abrupt if Sophia and not her son George-Louis directly succeeded Anne, for on the death of Queen Anne the British royal family turned German overnight. King George I was the first British monarch of the House of Hanover [his father's family].
The House of Hanover [or Guelph] was a German branch of the Italian House of Este, which descended from the Roman gens Actii, and Marcus Actius [and Julia, Julius Caesar's sister], whose family were descendants of the ancient Kings of Alba Longa [the "mother-city" of Rome]. The House of Este divided in the eleventh century into three major branches descended from three sons of Ezzo II, the Marquis of Italy and Lord of Este (d1097). His son Folk was the ancestor of the Italian branch [Folk-Este] who were the dukes of Ferrara, Modena, and Reggio in Italy; his son Hugh inherited the French province of Maine and founded the French branch of the family; and, his son Welf was invited to Germany by his mother-in-law who gave him all the possessions of his wife's father, Welf of Bavaria, and was the ancestor of the German branch [Welf-Este, or Guelph], who gave a line of dukes to Bavaria, became dukes of Brunswick, and one line became the electors [and later kings] of Hanover. Britain and Hanover were united by dynastic union during the reign of the Hanoverians in Britain though each retained their separate governments.
Unsure of his support in Britain, reluctantly, King/Elector George did not leave Hanover until six weeks after Queen Anne's death. Indeed, during those weeks, some members of parliament opened up negotiations with the Prince of Wales [the "warning-pan baby'] residing in Lorraine advising him to declare at once his conversion to Protestantism but he refused and let slip his chance at restoration to his late father's throne, and the succession of the Hanoverians passed off without incident.
The new king, King George I, arrived in England with his mistress Melusine von der Schulenburg and various others [including his son, Prince George] in an entourage of advisers, friends, and servants; and left his ex-wife Sophia-Dorothea of Celle locked up in Ahlden Castle in Hanover where she was confined for an earlier affair she had with the Swedish Count Philip-Christof von Konigsmarck; and King George was perceived by the British people as a horrible tyrant, cruel, heartless, and mean, holding his ex-wife captive in a castle dungeon while showing-off his mistress for everyone to see, which seemed to emphasize the absence of a queen-consort. It is debatable whether Sophia-Dorothea was a queen or not for their divorce in Hanover is generally thought to have been ineffective as far as Britain is concerned, and, had she of outlived King George I, she would almost certainly have been recognized as Queen-Mother and brought to England by her son King George II when he succeeded to the throne. King George I, of Sophia-Dorothea of Celle, had one son [King George II] and one daughter. King George also had three illegitimate daughters of his mistress Melusine. Melusine was nicknamed "the Maypole" because she was tall and thin. There were rumors that she and the king were secretly married his whole reign. She was a prominent figure in the royal court acting as his hostess and cultivating friendships with British ladies with political influence; and sometimes acted as an intermediary between the king and his ministers. King George was joined by his two brothers Maximilian and Ernest-Augustus. His illegitimate half-sister, Sophie-Charlotte von Kielmannsegge, called "the Elephant" because she was big and fat, was also prominent at court. She would trade in small court favors. The court of King George I lacked luster, and was one of the dreariest in Europe. It reflected King George's plain and simple tastes, and his dislike of pageantry. Actually, the royal court, always the center of government, virtually ceased to exist during King George's reign, except, at first, as a social forum. King George I, described as dull, humorless, and lazy, was an unattractive and uninspiring figure, however, his influence on the course of British History was enormous.
From the start King George I was unpopular but was tolerated by the British people for the great argument he represented, that is, Protestantism with constitutional-monarchy and civil liberty versus Catholicism and the autocratic rule of kings. King George did not like England, and the English People did not like him. He never worried if he had any right to the throne or not for he did not really care. There were others whose claims to the throne were better than his [among whom were the Duke of Orleans; Louis-Otto of Salm; and the Duke d'Enghien], however, he was Protestant and they were Catholics and thus debarred from the succession by act of parliament. Thus, with the Hanoverian succession, the principle of strict hereditary right disappeared since King George I succeeded to the throne by act of parliament and not by birth-right, and with it disappeared much of the mystical aura of the monarchy. No longer could it be said: "only God can make an heir," for now parliament apparently could also. The "official" story-line here was the fiction that parliament did not alter the succession, but merely declared it.
Ignoring his promise to choose his ministers on merit alone and not by party affiliation King George entrusted the affairs of state to the Whigs, for the Tories supported the hereditary line. Here government by party began to develop. King George appointed Charles Montagu, Earl of Halifax, as Prime Minister, in 1714. He was replaced the next year with Charles Howard, Earl of Carlisle, who only lasted a short while, and within a year (1715) was replaced with Robert Walpole. This was his first administration. In 1717 James Stanhope, Earl of Stanhope, was appointed to the premiership by King George. He was followed the next year (1718) with Charles Spencer, Earl of Sunderland. In 1721 Robert Walpole returned to office. King George did not speak English and none of his ministers spoke German, thus, for the first three years of his reign his son, George, the Prince of Wales, acted as an interpreter between his father and his father's ministers during cabinet meetings, until the rift between father and son took place in 1717 upon which, unable to communicate with his ministers, King George I discontinued the practice of participating in the cabinet meetings of his ministers and instead gave that chore to his "prime" ["first"] minister who would then report back to him; and King George left the administration of the country to his "prime minister" as have every monarch since. This allowed government-ministers to formulate policies, which, provided they were supported by a majority in parliament, the monarch would be powerless to resist. Thus power passed from the monarch to his ministers and parliament. It was during the reign of King George I that the office of "Prime Minister" as it is known today came into existence. The first Prime Minister in the modern sense was Robert Walpole. He served the Hanoverians for thirty years (1721-1742), and transformed his position into an office of state. His influence dominated British politics long after his service.
The year following King George's succession an uprising threatened to topple the new dynasty and set the hereditary heir, James Stuart, the "warming-pan baby," on the throne as the rightful king. The dispossessed prince, the son of the late ex-king James II, called "the pretender" by his opponents but called "the king across the sea" by his supporters, encouraged by King George's unpopularity, decided on a bold stroke to retake the throne and came to Britain and led an uprising against the "usurping" Hanoverians, however, he was so proud and pompous that even his own supporters grew to dislike him and their enthusiasm for his cause soon faded and he lost support and after only five weeks in Britain departed and went back into exile, and the rebellion in Britain died out.
note: the Jacobites
The Jacobites, who take their name from the Latin "Jacobus" for the English "James," were the supporters of the ex-king James II and his heirs' claim to the British throne. For nearly a century the Jacobites kept alive the hope of the restoration of the Stuarts. The fears in Britain over the next century of any Jacobite uprisings are proof that the general feeling was that the dispossessed Stuarts alone possessed a lawful title to the throne. [Grotius' "De Jure Belli ac Pacis, Libri Tres," Book I, Chapter 4, Nos. 15-19, says "a ruler who is deprived of the actual control of his/her country by either an invader or by revolutionaries nevertheless remains the legitimate "je jure" sovereign of his country and people, while the "de facto" government set up by the invader or revolutionaries is considered as an usurper, both constitutionally and internationally." The same also may be applied to the 1776 Rebellion in America.] The Stuarts maintained a rival court in exile and continued to challenge the position of the Hanoverians for many years to come. James Stuart, the Prince of Wales, the "warming-pan baby," called "Chevalier de St. George," was styled King JAMES III after his father's death [the ex-king, James II] in 1701. He made three unsuccessful attempts aiming at restoration in Britain as the "rightful" king, in 1715, 1719, and 1722, after which failures he became dejected and took to the bottle and later died drunk in 1766 (age 78) in abject poverty in Rome. He was survived by two sons, Prince Charles Edward Louis and Prince Henry Benedict Xavier, of his late wife, Marie Clementine Sobiesky, a Polish princess, of whom the eldest son was styled King CHARLES III on his death.
There was another uprising to restore the hereditary-line during King George II's reign. King George II was seen as an usurper by a large number of the British population, who referred to him simply as the "Elector of Hanover." Charles Stuart, called "Bonnie Prince Charlie," styled king as CHARLES III [after his father's death] while in exile, also called "The Young Pretender" in contrast to his father, the Prince of Wales, who was called "The Old Pretender," came to Britain in 1745 asserting his claim to the throne. He rallied supporters and marched on London, however, the failure of the general population to rise up in his favor as he was sure they would do compelled him to withdraw, which was a mistake for London was in panic, and, King George, alarmed by the dashing young prince's popularity, was even then packing his bags and making arrangements to flee the country. London was there for his taking, however, the "Bonnie Prince" did not know this and at the decisive moment made the wrong decision, and lost his chance at restoration. His retreat rallied the spirits of King George who assembled an army to oppose him. Prince Charles gained a victory at Falkirk over troops sent by King George, but was utterly defeated and routed in another battle at Culloden (1746), and the movement to restore the hereditary-line was brutally and finally crushed ending the hopes of the dispossessed Stuarts for another restoration. Prince Charles could have never escaped but for the devoted loyalty of the people. Hundreds knew where he was hiding yet none betrayed him and even though a high price [30,000 pounds] was offered as a reward for his capture. The prince with the help of a local maiden, Flora MacDonald, escaped on a frigate in the disguise of a peasant back into exile. The prince afterwards fell on hard times. His childless marriage to Louise of Stolberg-Guedern was in ruins by the 1770s; and she left him in 1780 to live openly with her lover, Vittorio, Count Alfieri, which caused the prince great embarrassment. In 1782 the "Continental Congress" in America sent a delegation to San Clemente Palazzo in Florence, the residence of "Bonnie Prince Charlie" in exile, and according to the U.S. archives, invited him to come to America and set-up a rival court there, but he declined the offer due to ill health and premature old age from many years of heavy drinking. Here was still another chance at restoration, however, the prince lacked "faith" in God to take the adventure. He had taken to the bottle during his failed marriage, which ruined his promising-future, and died in 1788 (age 67) in abject poverty in Rome. He left no issue of his wife, Louise of Stolberg-Guedern, however, begot an illegitimate daughter, Charlotte, of his mistress, Clementine Walkinshaw. His illegitimate daughter Charlotte had three illegitimate children fathered by Ferdinand de Rohan, the Arch-Bishop of Bordeaux. Though his illegitimate daughter Charlotte had been formally legitimized by her father (1784), it was his brother Prince Henry Benedict Xavier, Cardinal York, who was regarded by the "Jacobites" [supporters of the hereditary-line] as the next heir, ignoring Princess Charlotte altogether. Henry Benedict Xavier, the last of the Stuarts in the male-line, was styled king as HENRY IX upon his brother's death. Henry Stuart [King Henry IX] had entered the service of the Church and had become a priest, and eventually became a cardinal, and once was a candidate for the pontificate. He retired from his career in the service of the Church and later finding himself deep in poverty, in 1799, resolved the "succession issue" by exchanging his title for a pension from King George III, thus, abdicating in King George III's favor for the price of a yearly pay-check, which legally transferred the title to the British throne to the Hanoverians giving them legitimacy and sanctioning their occupancy of the throne. King George granted Prince Henry Benedict Xavier [formerly King Henry IX] the title "Count of Albany," which thereafter was his official style, and thus reconciled invited him to return to Britain from exile. He thought the invitation safe enough since Prince Henry was an old man, unwed and childless, and had no immediate heir. Prince Henry declined the invitation for health reasons preferring the warm Mediterranean climate, and later died in Rome unwed and celibate in 1807 (age 82). With the extinction of the exiled Stuarts the claim of the Hanoverians to the British throne was no longer in dispute. Prince Henry bequeathed his personal papers and the crown jewels to King George in his last will and testament, according to the phrase "the hereditary heirs." His will is debated as to whom the prince was referring to: if his, then, who would they be?; or probably King George's heirs; however, some argue the reference is to the royal Sardine's heirs. The three Stuart pretenders were all buried in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, and above the entrance to the crypt there is a stone on which is carved their names [in Latin], JACOBUS III, CAROLUS III, and HENRICUS IX.
The legacy of the Stuarts was not inherited by the ex-king of Sardinia [Charles Emmanuel IV], descended through female-links from Henriette-Anne, King James II‘s sister, which the Jacobites claimed after Prince Henry's death for the royal Sardine's heirs [passing through the families of Savoy, Hapsburg, and Wittelsbach], who themselves [the royal Sardine's heirs] have never made any pretensions to the Stuarts' inheritance or to the British throne and therefore according to "international law" have no legitimate claim. The traditional "international law" which upholds the validity of "de jure" kings in exile can be found in Grotius' work, "De Jure Belli ac Pacis, Libri Tres," which means that James III, and his two sons, Charles III and Henry IX, were the true kings of Britain and the early Hanoverians were usurpers. The question of how long a "de jure" king may continue in this status is answered in Textor's "Synopsis Juris Gentium," which says that "de jure" sovereigns in exile retain their status as long as they do not surrender their sovereignty to the "de facto" government, which King HENRY IX did in 1799. The article says that a dispossessed dynasty may keep its claims alive by filing diplomatic protests against the usurpers, which the Stuarts did every generation and/or with every Hanoverian succession as required by "international law." However, none of the heirs of the royal Sardine have ever made any claims to the Stuart inheritance; and, that a claim is deemed abandoned only when the protests cease. The failure of the heirs of the royal Sardine to prosecute or in any way assert the Stuarts' claims disqualifies them from any consideration to the Jacobite inheritance according to "international law." The point is elaborated on in Vattel's "Le droit des gens, ou principes de la roi naturelle appliqués a la conduite et aux affaires des nations et des souverains," which says that only when such protests cease does a prescription arise against the "de jure" rights of a legitimate claimant; upon what occurrence sovereignty passes either back to God, who gave it, or in some cases to the "de facto" government which at that point would be legitimized and acquire the full "de jure" rights of the former sovereign. Too, the recognition of the later Hanoverians by the heirs of the Royal Sardine on several occasions have in fact confirmed the invalidation of modern Jacobites' claims. The heir of the Royal Sardine today is Duke Franz [Francis] of Bavaria, who is considered by some to be the legal Jacobite heir; however, he can not make that claim according to international law [noted above]. He is unmarried and childless. His heir, therefore, is his younger brother, Max-Emanuel. Max-Emanuel has five daughters, the eldest of whom, Sophie, is married to Prince Alois of Liechtenstein. They have three sons, Joseph-Wenzel, George, and Nicholas. The right of the Bavarian duke, sometimes styled "Francis II" by Jacobites, to claim the Stuart legacy, has no basis according to "international law" due to the neglect of his ancestors to assert their claim nor protest the later Hanoverians' title. Modern Jacobites claim that King Henry IX resigned nothing to the "Elector of Hanover" [King George III] in 1799; and, one wrote that the payments King Henry IX received from the Hanoverian Elector was not a pension but rather installments on the return of the dowry of his grandmother Queen Mary-Beatrice. This explanation is a recent re-interpretation of the facts by modern Jacobites who support the candidacy of Duke Francis [Franz] of Bavaria to the British throne.
Something that modern Jacobites conveniently overlook is recorded by the Honorable Iain Moncreiffe of that Ilk, in his book "The Highland Clans," page 40, which is: "by the fourteenth century it had become common law [in both England and Scotland] that a person who was not born in the liegeance of the Sovereign, nor naturalized, could not have the capacity to succeed as an heir. He was in the strictest sense "illegitimate," though not of course born out of wedlock. This legal incapacity of aliens to be heirs applied to all inheritances, whether honors or lands. The effect of the succession opening to a foreigner was that, if he had not been naturalized or if his case was not covered by some special statute, the succession passed to the next heir "of the blood," who thus became the only "lawful" heir. It was of course always open to the Sovereign to confer an honor or an estate on a foreigner; the rule of law merely prevented aliens from being "lawful heirs" to existing inheritances. This "common law" principle was rigorously applied until the Whig Revolution of 1688 after which it was gradually done away with by the mid-nineteenth century. It was precisely because of this law that Queen Anne found it necessary to pass special legislation naturalizing all alien-born potential royal heirs under the "Act of Settlement" provisions. But, of course, from the Jacobite point of view, no new statute could be passed after 1688, and the old law remained static until the death of Cardinal York [King Henry IX] in 1807. At that time, his nearest heir in blood by the old [and therefore continuing Jacobite] law was not as is sometimes supposed the King of Sardinia, for the Royal Sardine had not the legal capacity to be an heir in Britain, unless naturalized which he was not. The nearest lawful heir of Prince Henry [King Henry IX], in 1807 was, in fact, curiously enough, King George III himself, who had been born in Britain and therefore in the technical liegeance of the Jacobite King James III [VIII] [whom the Hanoverians called "The Old Pretender"]. Hence, his descendant, the present Queen [Elizabeth II], is the lawful Jacobite Sovereign of the British realm!
Another event which appeared to threaten the stability of the new dynasty was the stock-market crash of 1721 [the South Sea Bubble] which brought the country to the brink of anarchy. It happened while King George was out of the country on another of his visits to Hanover, but the pretender, James Stuart, failed to seize the opportunity and let slip another change at restoration. He was terribly ill-advised.
Meantime, the on-going stormy feud between King George and his son George-Augustus, the "new" Prince of Wales, further alienated King George from the public. The Prince of Wales was banished from court, and he thereupon set up a rival court at Leicester House, in London, which caused the allegiance of all political parties to come to be attached to the Hanoverian line and away from the exiled Stuarts as "the opposition" rallied round the Prince of Wales against his father [the king] instead of the Stuart claimant. And, with the passage of time, the catholic Stuart pretender became less and less attractive to the protestant country.
The latter years of King George's reign were generally quiet ones. His interest in architecture led to the addition of many fine new buildings and city-squares in London. He was a patron of the music composer Handel and founded a royal academy of music. The British public was unmoved at the death of King George I who for most of his reign was an absentee monarch staying abroad for long periods in Hanover, where he was also the ruler. King George I died in 1727 (age 67) in the thirteenth year of his reign while on a visit to Hanover, and was buried in Hanover in Leine Schloss Chapel. His mother, SOPHIA, the late British heiress, was buried there also. The church was severely damaged during World-War-II, and in 1957 his sarcophagus and that of his mother's were moved to the family vault in the Chapel of Schloss Herrenhausen, Hanover.
GEORGE II AUGUSTUS succeeded to the throne (age 44) on his father's death in 1727. George II, unlike his father, spoke English fluently but with a German accent, which seemed foreign to his British subjects. He was expected to choose his prime-minister from among his supporters at Leicester House but his queen, Caroline of Anspach, persuaded him to retain Robert Walpole in office. The queen took an interest in politics and worked in close collaboration with Walpole while the king pursued his own personal interests which included a succession of mistresses, but that did not prevent him from being on good terms with the queen who meanwhile influenced the king to accept all of Walpole's policies. King George and Queen Caroline had two sons and five daughters to survive infancy. King George also had one illegitimate son of his mistress Amelia-Sophia, the wife of Gottlieb von Walmoden. Queen Caroline was the power behind the throne. King George was bored by politics, and, aware of his own inadequacies, allowed himself to be guided by those who were more capable. He was content to allow the queen to run things as long as he was free to carry-on with his own pursuits. She reigned as sole regent during her husband's absences in Hanover. Queen Caroline, who was much loved by the British people, was as popular as her husband was disliked by the British public. So long as she live, the Prime-Minister, Robert Walpole, was secure in his exercise of the powers of the crown. After her death (1737) Walpole's influence over the king was gone, and opposition against him rose in parliament, and soon he was forced to resign; and in 1742 King George chose Spencer Compton, Earl of Wilmington, to replace him. He was replaced the next year (1743) with John Carteret, Earl of Granville.
The relations between King George II and his eldest son, Frederick-Lewis, the Prince of Wales, were similar to those that had been between himself and his father; and Prince Frederick-Lewis also set up a rival court at Leicester House, which again became the center of the "opposition." The emergence of "the Prince of Wales' Party" as a feature of politics while the government was still spoken of as the "king's government" introduced the concept of "the loyal opposition" into British politics. The health of the Prince of Wales suddenly began to decline in 1751, and he died (age 44) unexpectedly following a short illness, and left behind his widow Augusta of Saxe-Gotha to raise their children [five sons and four daughters], the eldest of whom, Prince George, only twelve years old, become the heir-apparent. The young crown-prince was brought up by his mother who was antagonistic to the king, and on his coming of age also set up a rival court under his mother's guidance, and Leicester House resumed its former role as the center of the "opposition."
A serious erosion of royal power took place during the reign of King George II. The contours of constitutional monarchy were clearly visible by his reign. King George II was unable to sustain John Carteret, the Earl of Granville, in office in 1743, nor to stop Henry Pelham from taking power that year, nor to sustain William Pulteney, the Earl of Bath, who was unable to form a ministry in 1746, whereupon, Henry Pelham returned to office and served a second term. King George, too, only reluctantly accepted William Pitt, Earl Chatham, as "Prime-Minister" in 1756, whom he initially disliked but came to totally reply upon. It was frustrating to King George when he did not get his way; and he was inclined to loose his temper and would sometimes kick his hat, or wig, around the room in tantrums. He, however, still played an active part in government, but as he grew older his ministers increased their power at his expense, and by the time of his death he ruled in name only.
The first few years of King George II's reign were peaceful ones but the remainder of his reign was occupied by war, first with Spain in the "War of Jenkin's Ear" (1739-40), then with France in the "War of the Austrian Succession" (1740-48), and with France again in the "Seven Years' War" (1756-1763). King George II, though never really liked by the British people, did however gain momentary acclaim for personally leading the British Army to victory over the French in the Battle of Dettingen (1743). He was to be the last British monarch to personally lead British troops into battle. Yet, despite his victory, the war went badly for Britain. The French defeated the British at Fontenoy, overran Flanders [Belgium], and threatened Britain with invasion. The leadership of William Pitt, however, reversed the course of the war in Britain‘s favor, and that which had begun in disaster was transformed into a series of unbelievable triumphs. Robert Clive secured India in 1757 by the Battle of Plassey; and, James Wolfe destroyed French power in America and captured Quebec, in 1759. The East Indies, Senegal, and Guadaloupe were also taken by Britain.
Though strongly criticized by his contemporaries who saw King George II as obstinate, ungracious, and sometimes ridiculous; he was held in his esteem by his ministers, and, the Duke of Newcastle, Thomas Pelham-Holles, his last Prime-Minister, said of King George at the time of his death that he had lost "the best master and friend that any subject could ever have." King George II, described as "selfish, vain, and peevish," died in 1760 (age 77) in the thirty-third year of his reign. He was buried in Westminster Abbey.
GEORGE III is generally remembered as the "Mad King" who lost the American colonies. He succeeded to the throne (age 22) on the death of his grandfather in 1760. He was thoroughly English in his upbringing. King George was the eldest son of the late Prince of Wales, Frederick-Lewis. His long reign saw many changes. The Seven Years' War [called "the French and Indian War" in America] was coming to an end around the time of his succession, and out of it Britain acquired Quebec and the American Mid-West from France; Spain ceded Florida, and, with its other colonies on the eastern seaboard, the "Union Jack" waved over the entire eastern-half of North America.
The early years of King George III's reign were troubled by an unstable government. King George appointed his childhood tutor, the Earl of Bute, as Prime Minister on his mother's advice; but Lord Bute did not have the support of parliament, which raised the issue of the king's right to appoint his ministers. And, within a year, public scorn and derision forced him out of office; and, giving in to public opinion, King George invited George Grenville, who was the popular choice, to form an administration. Grenville's tenure in office as Prime Minister was a nightmare for King George. His attempt to tighten colonial administration in North America was met with defiance in the American colonies. Grenville lost popularity with the British public and support from parliament and resigned. King George afterwards took the unprecedented step of asking a member of the Royal Family to form a new administration, namely, his uncle, Prince William, the Duke of Cumberland, who had a distinguished military-career. He, however, died shortly after, and was followed in quick succession by Charles Watson-Wentworth, the Marquis of Rockingham; William Pitt "The Elder," the Earl of Chatham, and Augustus Henry FitzRoy, the Duke of Grafton, whose ministries brought crisis after crisis. They were followed by Frederick, Lord North, one of the most criticized of all British prime-ministers. His tax on tea resulted in riots in the American colonies and the Boston Tea Party (1773). Parliament was surprised by the reaction of the colonies; and Lord North sent troops to the colonies to restore order, however, upon arriving met resistance. The flames of revolution were fanned in the American colonies by underground secret committees which were set up by small gangs of rebels [e.g. Thomas Paine] who were influenced by the British 1688 "Bloodless Revolution" as well as by the political writers of the "Age of Reason" [e.g. "Le Contrat Social" (1762), by Rousseau, the French humanist], and, who with extraordinary zeal circulated seditious propaganda throughout the colonies and before long a revolutionary spirit took on a momentum of its own and soon large-scale rebellion broke out in thirteen British colonies in North America, which became known as "the American Revolution." The colonies resisted the federalizing policy of the British Parliament and refused to send representatives to London to become members of the British Parliament preferring instead to have their own assembly and sent delegates who met in a local assembly or congress at Philadelphia which claimed authority as representing the American people and established itself as a provisional government of "the thirteen united colonies" of America. The colonial congress made several attempts for an official "reconciliation" to take place between the king "and His Majesty's still loyal American subjects," however, after failing to come to terms with the king over the issue of "no taxation without representation," took a vote for independence, which only passed by a majority of one vote, and, denouncing King George III as "unfit to be the ruler of a free people," the colonial congress severed ties to the mother-country and declared independence on July 4, 1776, on the anniversary of Jeroboam's rebellion, which British-Israelists are careful to point out the symbolism. The "Consent Theory" was the theoretical justification by which the "Continental Congress" justified breaking ties to the British Crown. It would come back to haunt U.S. politics. The rejection of the rule of King George by the "Continental Congress," declaring in the "Declaration of Independence" that "we will not have this man to reign over us" [paraphrase], reminds one of the climax of man's rejection of God's rule when Pilate presented Jesus to "the people" as their king, to which "the people" responded, saying: "we will not have this man to reign over us" (Luke 19:14b). The correlation here between that Bible quote and the denunciation of King George in the "Declaration of Independence" is obvious. The cities of the American colonies upon hearing the news of the "Declaration of Independence" all swarmed with street-mobs which destroyed government buildings, expelled or killed royal officials, and pulled down all symbols of royal government as well as the statutes of King George in all the town-squares. The colonial congress raised an army of volunteers to fight the Royal Army and gave command of it to George Washington, who resigned his commission as an army-colonel in the "Royal Army" to become a general and commander-in-chief of the "Continental Army" raised by the American Revolutionary "Continental Congress." The Dutch, French, and Spanish, saw their opportunity to avenge old grievances and they declared war on Britain, and suddenly the British were fighting wars on other fronts at the sametime. The colonial forces under Washington, with the assistance of the Dutch, French, and Spanish, defeated every attempt by Britain to squash the rebellion and consequently won their independence by 1782. After the surrender of General Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781, it came to be apparent to everyone that the war was essentially over. A treaty was signed in 1783 which formally gave the colonies their independence, and remaining British troops in the colonies were then brought back home to the British Isles or redeployed elsewhere. King George III choked on the word "independence" in his speech from the throne in Parliament that year granting the colonies their independence, and later resisted meeting John Adams, the first U.S. ambassador to "The Court of St. James." The thirteen former British colonies in North America united to form a new country, the United States [U.S.A.], which was the first time in human history that a colony had broken away from its mother-country and had established itself as a new country. The members of the U.S. congress debated for weeks about what sort of state they wished to establish in the new country. The U.S. archives record that congress toyed with the idea of establishing a monarchy, and dispatched a delegation to San Clemente Palazzo, in Florence, the residence of the royal Stuart claimant, "Bonnie Prince Charlie," styled king as CHARLES III by his supporters, the rightful heir to the British throne, whom they invited to come to America and set-up a rival royal court in opposition to "the Hanoverian Elector" George III and/or "the Hanoverian usurpers." He declined the offer due to his ill-health, old age; passing-up a chance for restoration, and, his brother, Prince Henry, his heir, the last of the Stuarts, also declined as having taken vows as a Roman Catholic Cardinal in the service of the Church at Rome and was therefore unwed, childless, and without an immediate heir. The U.S. congress then offered to make George Washington, who was distantly related to the British royal house, the "King of America," but he also declined the offer having no immediate qualifying heritance and also no immediate heir. The absence of a suitable royal candidate led the U.S. congress to vote for a republic. The first "national convention" produced the "Articles of the Confederation," the first U.S. constitution, which provided for a confederate state. John Hanson was the first and last or only U.S. president under the "Articles." The "Consent Theory" says that everyone consented to keep the "Articles" that created the republic following the 1776 Rebellion of the American colonists against "the monarchy," and were therefore bound to them; however, the question arises how does each new generation grant its consent to be governed by any constitutional document written by a previous generation which provides for a state the contemporary generation did not create? The "Consent Theory," the official doctrine of the American 1776 Rebellion, was a "humanist" concept based on the premise that everyone is free and unanswerable to God or anyone else. Indeed, its very basis was the "original sin" which the Bible records. For the essence of the sin of Adam and Eve was the transference of the control of their lives from God to themselves. The story is well-known that God had told Adam and Eve they could do anything they wanted to do in the "Garden of Eden," called "Paradise," except one thing, to eat of the fruit of the "Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil" in the midst of the garden, which if they did they would die. As long as they refrained from eating from that tree, God was their master, but, when, in disobedience to God's command, they did that "one thing," they made themselves their own masters. There the human-race expressed its autonomy and independence of God's rule, which gave birth to "democracy" ["rule of the people"]! It was all the vogue of the 1776 generation in America that the Bible was a book of myths and fables and that God did not really exist but was an abstract concept invented in ancient times by early man. It would appear that the American 1776 Rebellion was not only about politics but also about religion, or rather the lack of it. No longer was the Bible regarded as the source of political theory, but the ideologists of the American Revolution sought to find political theory in human inventive reasoning. The second "national convention" met a few years later to re-write "The Articles," but the convention was hijacked by the "illuminati," and, instead, out of it came the second "U.S. Constitution," which provided for a federation, that is, a federal state. The second "national convention," controlled by the "illuminati" established an entirely new order and state. The new state [U.S.A.] was to have a totally "new order," that is, "a new order for the ages," which is printed on the U.S. dollar in Latin: "novus ordo seclorum." The "illuminati" was a secret society of intellectuals, many of whom were masons. They belonged to masonic lodges, and practiced the cult of "freemasonry," which was not so much a fraternity than as it was the services of a false religion, namely, "humanism." George Washington was elected by the first congress of the formerly thirteen American colonies as the first president of the new state created by the ratification of the second U.S. constitution. The new state [U.S.A.] unofficially adopted "freemasonry" as its political ideology. Indeed, George Washington was dressed in the garb of a Masonic Grand-Master when he laid the foundation-stone of the U.S. Capitol Building in a traditional Masonic ceremony. The "official" Bible of the new state was the "Jefferson Bible," the original copy of which is on display in the Smithsonian Institute. Thomas Jefferson, the author of the "Declaration of Independence," went through the Bible and cut out all references to any miracles, omitting verses, paragraphs, and even whole books. Thomas Jefferson was an atheistic, and the only reason there is any mention of God, referred to as "divine providence," in the "Declaration of Independence" was due to the insistence of Rev. Witherspoon, the congressional chaplain. Several of America's so-called "Founding Fathers" were "deists," who did not believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ nor in the miracles recorded in the Bible. The "deism" of many of the so-called American "Founding Fathers" is well documented in history. Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying: "I soon became a thorough deist"; and believed that "traditional Christianity was good for the general masses of the less intelligent to follow as it helped them to lead better lives." History books tell us that the 1776 Rebellion was fought over the issue of "the inalienable rights the Creator gave to man," that is, "human-rights." The whole idea of "human rights" is a fantasy, for the Bible clearly says "ye are not your own, for ye are brought with a price" (1 Cor. 6:19b-20a), that is, "Jesus' Sacrifice," hence, we actually in reality have no rights, for we are all creatures who belong to the Creator-God Almighty, who reigns on earth through the agency of a dynasty of kings to whom He has given a divine mandate. The republic which replaced royal-government in America has a mandate "from the people," which validity is questionable and open to debate, however, the British Monarchy the American colonists severed ties with in the 1776 Rebellion has a "divine mandate" from God to rule, as illustrated in its "origin-story" of "The Sword and The Stone," which gives the British royal-line a divine commission to produce the shepherds [monarchs] for His [God's] flock [sheep] in the British Isles and its overseas colonies, until the "Second Coming" of Jesus Christ, the "Messiah," who will one day future establish the direct rule of God in person on earth as Himself incarnate and reign eternally as "universal-king" of a worldwide theocratic state. Meantime, it is in His [Jesus'] Name, that the British royal-line reigns, that is, "by the Grace of God" ["Deo Gratia"], not "by the will of the people," representing God's rule, not man's rule, while America, rejecting the theocratic right of God to choose its rulers, elects its own rulers, the U.S. presidents, who govern by a "mandate from the people," which the Bible expressly forbids in verse (Deut. 17:15), principle, and doctrine; for, who can give one man the right to rule another man, surely not another man, only God can, who is the sole fountain of all legitimate power and authority, consequently, no government can rightly oblige men to obedience unless it proceeds from God, thus, government among men cannot be derived from mere human activity, such as the case of the treasonous activities of the members of the 1776 American Continental Congress, but the Bible had little influence on the 1776 generation of American colonists. Hence, the necessity of divine institution for government without which no obligation of conscience can be laid upon anyone to submit to any government whatsoever. Therefore, even if King George III was "unfit to be the ruler of a free people" as the American Colonial Congress denounced him, yet for the 1776 generation in America to question his authority was in essence to question God's purpose. He had a "mandate" from the Creator-God Almighty, called "divine-right," therefore, the 1776 generation of American colonists should have obeyed him in all things!
The loss of the American colonies brought down Lord North's administration and another period of instability in government followed in Britain. There were three prime-ministers who succeeded one another over the next year: Charles Watson-Wentworth, the Marquis of Rockingham [his 2nd time]; William Petty, the Earl of Shelburne; and, William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck, the Duke of Portland; each of whom was embroiled in political crisis. The king was alone to solve the problem and at length found an answer in William Pitt "The Younger" [the son of the earlier Prime Minister of that name], who rescued the king and gave the country a stable administration for the next eighteen years. It was during those next eighteen years that King George began to play a less active role in government due to attacks of insanity he began to suffer and eventually left the government entirely to his ministers, though he sometimes would intervene in politics and had the support of the British people in dismissing William Grenville as Prime Minster in 1807 [son of George Grenville, the earlier Prime Minister], who came to power following William Pitt's death in office. The Duke of Portland was recalled by King George, but due to his ill-heath he was no more than the nominal head of the administration and soon was obliged to resign. He was followed by Spencer Perceval, the only British prime-minister to be assassinated in office. Too, parliament did much to increase its own powers during the king's illness.
His inability to come to terms with the loss of the American colonies drove King George insane. He began to act strangely after it came to be realized that the American colonies were lost, and suffered an attack of insanity in 1788 which left him badly deranged for three or four months. King George made a full recovery in 1789 and went in state with the queen and the royal family to St. Paul's Cathedral to give thanks for his recovery. In the following years he had several relapses. It was during periods of convalescence that King George pursued his interests in agriculture; and his creation of model-farms earned him the nickname "Farmer George." He would travel informally around the country and had numerous conversations about farming with the local country-folk.
A conscientious ruler King George III had strong moral principles and was deeply religious. King George, described as "kind, charitable, and frugal," was devoted to his family. He enjoyed spending his time with his queen, Charlotte of Mecklenburg, and their children, seven sons and six daughters, who were all going to give them headaches later. King George was a man of simple tastes and habits and adopted a simple life-style, which has been maintained by the royal family ever since, with some notable exceptions. Later, after his children had grown, "his high-spirited spendthrift sons" caused him and the royal family much embarrassment and undermined the integrity of the monarchy.
Though seen as a tyrant by the American colonies, King George III was remarkably popular with his subjects at home, who displayed some sympathetic tolerance for his bouts of insanity and gave him a tremendous reception in a jubilee celebrating his fiftieth year on the throne in 1809 and was cheered by huge crowds as he went to and from the Thanksgiving Service at St. Paul's. The next year, in 1810, King George suffered his last attack of insanity from which he did not recover and became permanently deranged and was confined by his doctors. It was obvious that he was not able to perform the duties of his position, thus, the following year, in 1811, the queen was given custody of the king, and the king's eldest son, George, the Prince of Wales, became regent for his father.
PRINCE GEORGE (age 48) became regent for his father in 1811. The "Regency Period" was characterized by the Prince-Regent himself who was called "THE GREAT CORINTHIAN" for his worldliness. He had earlier set up his own court as Prince of Wales at Carlton House in 1783 and became the leader of fashionable London society. In those days he was called "the first gentleman of Europe." He had a taste for ceremony and spared no expense in maintaining a lavish life-style. The prince as a young man enjoyed considerable popularity for his good-looks and flamboyant personality, but in his middle years by the "Regency Period" he had become fat and dumpy, egocentric, vulgar, and a heavy drinker and gambler, which made him profoundly unpopular. The "prince-charming" of the previous generation had become a grotesque, spoilt playboy, subject of vicious attacks by caricaturists. He was a great embarrassment to the government and the country. He had a succession of mistresses including Perdita Robinson and Lady Melbourne. His secret [first] marriage to Mary-Anne Smythe, a Catholic, her third marriage, widow of Thomas Fit Herbert [2nd husband], and, widow of Edward Weld [1st husband], was annulled in a deal with parliament for money to pay-off his debts. He sold what has come to be known as the "Hope Diamond" from out of the coffers of the crown jewels to help pay-off his debts. His marriage to his unattractive cousin, Caroline of Brunswick, which was forced on him in another deal to pay-off his debts, was a disaster! They separated after the birth of their only child, a daughter, Charlotte, and went their separate ways. Caroline went on an indefinite stay abroad on the European continent where she led a colorful life, while the Prince Regent at home led his own debauched existence. The princess was flagrantly indiscreet if not openly adulterous. For a while the Prince of Wales could not go out in public without fear of causing a riot, or being hissed at, or even being stoned by a mob. He took the monarchy to an all-time low in public respect due to his chaotic private life.
Britain during the "Regency Period" put together three coalitions against Napoleon and saw his final defeat in Europe. Napoleon rose out of the French Revolution to be the greatest challenge to Britain during King George III's reign. The French Revolution, which had been inspired by the American Revolution, saw the abolition of monarchy in France and the founding of the French Republic (1793), and Britain after nearly a decade of war with France came to terms with the new French government. In 1801 the empty claim to France was at long last abandoned and George III dropped his title "King of France" [held by English kings for nearly 500 years since King Edward III], and recognized the French Republic. A treaty was signed the next year in 1802 which formalized the terms, but the year after that in 1803 war again broke out with France. Britain was threatened with invasion by Napoleon, however, the British Navy under Horatio Nelson destroyed the French Fleet in the Battle of Trafalgar (1805), maintaining Britain's supremacy on the open high-seas; and, the British Army under Arthur Wellesley, the "Iron Duke" of Wellington, defeated the French Army in the Battle of Waterloo (1815), captured Napoleon, who was jailed by the British until his death. The Prince-Regent was host to the King of Prussia, the Emperor of Russia, and other European crown-heads when they visited Britain in the course of their triumphant progress throughout Europe celebrating their victory over Napoleon, and his final defeat and capture. Robert Banks-Jenkinson, the Earl of Liverpool, served as Prime Minister during the "Regency Period." He was much criticized for supporting the Metternich settlement in Europe. Britain, during the "Regency Period," also became involved in a war with its former colonies, the U.S.A., which was called the "War of 1812" or the "Second War For Independence." The former American colonies, now, the "United States of America," thought it an opportune time to annex neighboring British territories in North America outside of the original boundaries of "the United thirteen States," and invaded British territories, which sparked the war. The Americans lost every battle except the last one, the Battle of New Orleans, which was fought three weeks after the war was over. The "Regency" was anxious for peace, and after negotiations between delegations from both sides, concluded a treaty in 1815, giving their former colonies, the U.S.A., almost everything it asked for. It was not the aim of the "Regency," at any time during the administration of the Earl of Liverpool, the Prime Minister, to retake Britain's "lost" colonies, as the newspapers reported to the American public in a propaganda campaign for patriotism; but the "Regency" sought to resolve the issues between the "U.S.A." and Britain as quickly as possible and conclude peace and cultivate economic growth.
Meanwhile, the old king, George III, passed away his remaining years in a sorry state almost forgotten in seclusion at Windsor Castle, blind, deaf, and insane. His hair and beard were allowed to grow, and he was often alone all day except for the castle's servants who in effect had become his keepers. He did not recognize anyone whenever he had visitors, and was unaware of the death of the queen in 1818. King George III died in 1820 (age 82) in the fifty-ninth year of his reign. He was buried in St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.
GEORGE IV, after nine years as "Prince-Regent," succeeded to the British throne (age 57) on his father's death in 1820. His estranged wife Caroline of Brunswick rejected a pension to stay away and returned from abroad to claim her place at her husband's side as queen which caused an enormous scandal in the United Kingdom. His attempt to divorce her made him all the more unpopular and disgusted the public. The country was scandalized to learn of the sordid details of the couple's lives. She was banned from court and was turned away from Westminster Abbey for her husband's coronation, and conveniently died the following month, saving the king further embarrassment and controversy. There were many demonstrations in favor of reform, and the general consensus was that the country was on the verge of revolution. In a carefully organized campaign to improve his public image, King George visited Ireland, Scotland, and Hanover, and was well received by his subjects in those domains (1821-2). It did much to diminish the country's hostility against him. It is noteworthy that King George wore the royal Stuart kilt during his Scotland visit. The right to wear it had been bequeathed to King George in the will of Henry Stuart, Cardinal York, styled King Henry XI, the last of the Stuarts, who died in 1807, unwed and childless.
Lacking interest in political affairs King George IV neglected his duties as king. He dragged his feet in appointing a successor to replace Liverpool as prime-minister [who had suffered a stroke] in 1827 and at length when pressure was brought to bare on him suggested that his ministers should resolve the matter for him, by which he was abandoning a vital prerogative. The episode was a decisive step in the process of the transition of the monarchy from a "constitutional monarchy" to a "democratic monarchy." George Canning, the foreign-secretary, was voted Prime Minster by the "cabinet." He fought parliamentary reform. He was followed that same year by Frederick Robinson, whose administration lasted only a year (1827-8). The king then called on Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, to form a ministry. The duke, showered with honors by his successful military-career, entered politics after his retirement from the army, and had been elected as a member of parliament. He was a staunch Tory and opposed the reform of parliament and was well-liked by King George. He never liked King George, but developed a close relationship with the king's brother, Prince William [future King William IV], whom he also later served as prime-minister. It was Wellington's second ministry. The great army-general came to be a close personal friend of the Royal Family.
The death of King George IV's only child, his daughter, Charlotte, the heiress-presumptive, or "crown-princess," in 1817, was not only a tragedy for the Royal Family but also a crisis for the country as it left the long-term succession uncertain. Her death plunged the British Nation into grief. Crown-Princess Charlotte, who had married Duke Leopold of Saxe-Coburg [the future King Leopold I of Belgium], died in childbirth to a stillborn son. It sent all of King George's unmarried ageing bachelor-brothers, the dukes of Clarence, Kent, and Cambridge, hastily seeking brides scrambling to get married to provide for the succession. His sisters were either spinsters or childless. King George IV spent his later years, suffering from gout, living quietly with his mistress, Lady Conyngham. He died in 1830 (age 67) in the tenth year of his reign, and was buried in St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. The newspaper "The Times" reported his death saying that "there never was an individual less regretted by his fellow creatures than this deceased king."
WILLIAM IV, called "THE SAILOR KING" for his naval career before his succession, succeeded to the throne (age 64) on his brother's death in 1830. Prince William, the Duke of Clarence, the third-son of King George III, had never expected to be king since he had two older brothers. The death of King George IV's only child Crown-Princess Charlotte made William's older brother Prince Frederick, the Duke of York, the next in line, but he died without issue sometime later and that brought Prince William into the direct-line of succession. His early life in the navy shaped his character. He, as a younger son of the monarch, entered the service on his coming of age as was expected of him and was given command of a frigate. He saw action in America and the West Indies serving under Horatio Nelson. He was made a vice-admiral in 1794; and in 1799 was made a full admiral. He became Admiral of the Fleet in 1811; and in 1827 became Lord High Admiral. He retained many of his ways and habits of a naval officer throughout his life. His blunt speech, affable manner, and simple tastes endeared him to the public. Upon his retirement from the navy he settled down with his long-time mistress Dorothy Bland [Mrs. Jordan], an actress, who bore Prince William ten illegitimate children, who were given the surname "FitzClarence," and, to whom King William later gave titles and pensions; and their children [his grandchildren], whom he adored, were allowed the run of the palace after Prince William became king. They were of course not eligible for the succession, and King William therefore began looking for a wife in the hope of providing for the succession. He married Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen and had a daughter Elizabeth. The infant-princess appeared to be a healthy child, however, the child lived only three months and suddenly died unexpectedly after a short illness. The death of the infant-princess was mourned by the whole country. There were later rumors from time to time that the queen was pregnant, and she did have another daughter who died at birth and also had stillborn male twins, but as the years went by it came to be realized that she was unlikely to produce an heir, and the next in line to the throne after King William was his niece, Princess Victoria, the only child of his late younger brother Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent, the fourth-son of King George III, whose widow was antagonistic to the king. The queen, a devoted wife, Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, surprisingly proved to be a kind step-mother to all of her husband's illegitimate off-spring. There could not have been a more complete contrast in the courts of King William IV, which was dowdy, dull, and dreary, and the lavish high-style elegant court that his late brother, King George IV, kept. Anyway, the state of the economy obliged King William to drastically cut-down on the ceremonial side of the monarchy. King William was known for his down-to-earth bluffness. He was "a man of strong language, forthright opinions, and spoke his mind openly," often lacking in tact. King William, sometimes called "Silly Billy," displayed public outbursts of anger, was totally lacking in acceptable polite manners, and had no idea of etiquette. Queen Adelaide often had to cover-up for his many gaffes.
Reform dominated King William IV's reign. The king was unenthusiastic about reforms but believed that concessions needed to be made now to prevent revolution later, for a revolutionary-wave was rippling all over the world at the time. The Reform Bill of 1832 transferred the king‘s powers to nominate the government to the electorate, that is, the people. The House of Lords opposed the bill for it meant a vast increase in the influence of the House of Commons. The prime minister, Charles Grey, asked the king to create fifty new peers favorable to the Reform Bill to overcome the majority vote against it in the House of Lords. The king refused, whereupon Grey had no choice but to resign, however, after the Duke of Wellington failed to form a majority in parliament the king was obliged to recall Grey who resumed office and pressured the king to agree. The House of Lords thus threatened allowed the bill to pass. In 1834 King William found himself involved in political controversy when he clashed with his Prime Minister, William Lamb, Lord Melbourne, over his Irish policy. He dismissed Melbourne, the last occasion on which a monarch has dismissed a prime-minister, and invited Robert Peel to form an administration. Unable to govern with a minority in parliament Peel resigned in three months time, and reluctantly King William reinstated Melbourne in office, and discovered that he had to accept the elected government whether he liked it or not. The episode marks a mile-point in the history of the British constitution, for it put an end to the idea that the government was the personal choice of the monarch.
It was to King William IV's merit that he rescued the monarchy from disrepute after the reign of his late dissolute brother [King George IV] and that he steered the monarchy safely through the straits of reform in a revolutionary age. King William IV died in 1837 (age 71) in the seventh year of his reign and was buried in St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. He was succeeded on the British throne by his niece Princess Victoria; while Hanover was inherited separately by his younger brother Prince Ernest-Augustus, the firth-son of King George III, since Hanover did not allow for women rulers.
VICTORIA succeeded to the throne (age 18) on the death of her uncle, King William IV, in 1837. The change in scene could hardly have been more dramatic, for the three previous monarchs had been elderly old men and the new monarch was a pretty teenage girl. The effect on the equally elderly statesmen in the government was also remarkable. The country was stirred with affection for their young queen as it could sense the dawning of a new era in its history, which she in time came to be the symbol of, and that was the Victorian Age.
The queen came to rely on her prime-minister, Lord Melbourne, for whom she developed a deep affection. He tutored her in politics and she became a partisan of the Whig Party in her early years. It was her desire to return Melbourne to office that was responsible for the inability of Robert Peel to maintain a ministry when the Queen refused his request to replace the ladies of her bedchamber who had been appointed by the previous administration. Peels' government collapsed over the "Bedchamber Crisis," and Melbourne was recalled to his old job. It was the last occasion in which a monarch prevented the formation of a ministry. The Queen called for elections; and Peel won an overwhelming majority in a general election. The Queen then acquiesced to the people's will and invited Peel to form another ministry, and Peel resumed office as Prime-Minister. In time the Queen came to have as much confidence in Peel as she once had in Melbourne and eventually she began leaning towards the Tories. In her later years she came to be as strong for the Tories as she had once been for the Whigs in her early years, however, for the most part the Queen tried to stay out of politics and not show herself to be a partisan to any political party, but to watch and preside over the government and left the administration to whoever was prime-minister. She was very decided on whom she liked and disliked as prime-minister. She was very fond of Disraeli but could not stand Gladstone; yet she did not venture to remove a prime-minister without the consent of parliament, nor did she venture to keep an administration that parliament did not approve of. She was served by ten prime ministers and saw twenty administrations come and go during her long reign.
Britain during Victoria's reign became the first industrial nation. The "industrial revolution" which had begun in England with discoveries in engineering about a century earlier was in full-swing during Queen Victory's reign and caused an unprecedented growth in Britain's population as well as a vast expansion of manufacture and trade. The "great potato famine" in Ireland in 1848 caused the immigration of thousands of Irishmen to Britain seeking work. They filled the labor shortage crisis in Britain‘s factories. The mismanagement of Irish relief efforts by John Russell, the British Prime Minister (1846-52), made Britain appear callous, un-caring, or indifferent to Irish needs. Russell's bungling planted the seeds of the later Irish Easter-Rebellion. The Great Exhibition of 1851 which was held to celebrate the country's achievements in technology was the beginning of "world's fairs" that have since been held many times in other countries.
Royal British Forces were fighting wars everywhere during Queen Victoria's reign, in Russia (1854-6), in India (1857-8), in Ethiopia (1868), in Afghanistan (1878-80), in Central Africa, that is, the "Zulu War" (1879), in Egypt (1882), in Sudan (1881-98), and, in China (1896-1900); and, was acquiring territories worldwide, for example the Cape Colony of South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, etc.; and the British Empire during the glorious reign of Queen Victoria grew to encircle the entire globe with the Royal Navy ruling the seven seas. It was said that "the sun never set on the British Empire." Britain came to be unrivalled as a world-power, and as a super-power attempted to enforce and keep the peace among the world's nations as a part of its "gunboat policy" which was called "Pax Britannia." The growth of the overseas empire gave the British Crown a new role as the bond uniting together a community of nations into a single empire. The queen's assumption of the title "empress" in 1876 marked the zenith of the British Empire. The title gave the British Monarchy imperial dignity and put Queen/Empress Victoria on a par with the emperors of Russia, Germany, and Austria, which each presided over their own empires.
The marriage of Queen Victoria to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg, was a great success and produced four sons and five daughters. The relationship between the Queen and her eldest son Edward, the Prince of Wales, was sometimes tense, for the Queen had high moral standards whereas the prince was given over to fast-living, gambling, and womanizing. Her husband Albert, the Prince-Consort, died premature (age 42) from typhoid in 1861 which devastated the Queen. Queen Victoria was inconsolable and so grief stricken that she withdrew from public life altogether and spent the next forty years in seclusion staying at either Windsor Castle, Osborne House, or Balmoral Castle, appearing very rarely in public on certain occasions. The royal London residence of Buckingham Palace was left empty and was hardly used for forty years; for which some prankster put a sign on the palace gates that read: "For Rent." The sign was taken down as soon as it was reported to the police. The once happy queen changed into the somber figure dressed in black which is the image of her now in history as "The Widow of Windsor." She became a recluse and a whole generation grew up in Britain which had never seen their queen who in the meantime was ageing into an old woman within the walls of Windsor Castle. The Royal Family suffered "bad press" during those years and the monarchy came to be very unpopular. Her seclusion, and the scandalous behavior of her son, Edward, the Prince of Wales, stirred a republican movement in Britain that flourished for a number of years. The most liberal-minded people of the age believed that hereditary monarchy had come to be an anachronism, and that Britain would soon follow the example of the United States and become a republic. There were some British politicians who even went so far as to call for the abolition of the monarchy. The mood of the public gave rise to the Second Reform Bill of 1867, which set the stage for the Third Reform Bill of 1884. The serious illness of the Prince of Wales from typhoid [which had killed his father] in 1871 threw the nation into a state of consternation. The Royal Family gathered in attendance at his bedside, and regular bulletins were posted of his condition on the palace gates. He recovered at length, which news was cause for rejoicing throughout Britain. The episode improved the public's feeling towards the Royal Family. A Thanksgiving Service for his recovery was held at St. Paul's Cathedral attended by the Royal Family. It was the turning-point in the republican movement which afterwards steadily declined and had fizzled out completely by the end of Queen Victoria's reign. Though in seclusion the Queen was not inactive, and gave close attention to daily routine business. She grew firm, strong-willed, and hard, in her later years; and ruled her court at Windsor Castle with a heavy hand, and was very demanding of her ministers whom she held accountable for their plans, actions, and ideas. The fact that she was a "constitutional monarch" saved many heads from rolling severed by an executioner‘s axe. In 1874 Prime Minister Disraeli coaxed the Queen out of retirement, and she re-emerge from mourning back into public-life. The Queen, encouraged by her ministers, slowly began to take on more and more public engagements. The Queen began again opening parliament in person, which she disliked very much, and compared it to a public execution. From the death of the Prince Consort in 1861 until 1886, she opened parliament only six times. And, after 1886, she dispensed with the practice altogether. Her son, the future King Edward VII, during his later reign, revived the practice. The queen's Scottish servant John Brown combined the roles of secretary, servant, and confidant. She depended on him as much for support and companionship as for his services. After his death, the queen's Indian servant Abdul Karim, called "the Munshi," became her confidential secretary. He introduced at court a number of Indian ladies, whom he described as his "sisters, aunts, and cousins." The Queen was surrounded at Windsor Castle by her large and growing family from whom she drew comfort. The marriages of the queen's children to foreign royalty extended her influence to foreign capitals, and when the grandchildren came of age in the 1880s Queen Victoria was called "the Grandmother of Europe."
The Queen regained the respect and affection of the British people in her old age, as she came to be the mother-figure of the British Empire symbolizing its imperial greatness. The Queen came to be the focus of renewed loyalty and patriotic sentiment by the British people. She celebrated her fiftieth year on the throne in 1887 by a jubilee, receiving a tremendous reception from her subjects. Then, ten years later in 1897 the anniversary of her sixtieth year on the throne was celebrated by another grand spectacle. Her appearances visiting the wounded in hospitals during the "Boer War" (1899-1902), despite her fragile health, rallied public morale. The empire went into mourning when Queen Victoria died in 1901 (age 81) in the sixty-third year of her reign. Many people could not believe it, for most of her subjects had grown up during her long reign and could not remember any other monarch. She was buried beside her late husband Prince Albert in a mausoleum she had built at Frogmore. Queen Victoria was the last Hanoverian monarch.
EDWARD VII succeeded to the throne (age 59) on his mother's death in 1901. King/Emperor Edward VII was the first British monarch of the House of Saxe-Coburg [or Wettin], his father's house.
The House of Saxe-Coburg [or Wettin] was a German noble house which was a branch of the old Saxon royal house and descended through the medieval Saxon dukes from Widukind [Wittikind] "the Great," the last "King of the Saxons," who submitted to Charlemagne [who conquered Germany] and became one of his vassals as the first "Duke of Saxony," and, who, was himself descended through earlier Saxon kings and tribal chiefs from Odovacar, the "Barbarian" chief who conquered the Roman Empire, who descended from Arminius [Herman] "The Great," King of Germania (1BC/AD1), a descendant of Ariovistus, King of "Germania" [who fought Julius Caesar 58-54BC] (d49BC), son of Teutbal (Teutobochus), King of Teutons (Germans) (d102BC), who descended through a line of tribal-kings from Askanes, founder of the dynasty [the Saxon royal house], who was a prince of the Herminones, one of the three great Teutonic dynasties of ancient times. The others were the Ingvaeones [the ancestors of the Scandinavian Ynglingas] and the Istvaeones [the ancestors of the Salian kings of France, Germany, and Italy, and some minor dynasties, such as the Lotharingians of Upper Lorraine].
The reign of King Edward VII saw a reaction against the virtues and moral code of the Victorian Age and introduced a new era whose characteristics contrasted sharply with the previous age. The so-called "Edwardian Era" rejected traditional forms and was politically liberal and socially permissive. The reign of King Edward was a welcome relief to many British people after the drab and gray years of the latter half of Queen Victoria's reign. In contrast, King Edward kept a fast pace court of successive social events, glittering balls, and grand receptions usually in the company of his queen; or sometimes in the company of one of his mistresses, of whom the best known were the actress Lillie Langtry [Mrs. Langtry, called "Jersey Lily"], the socialite Lady Frances Brooke [called "Daisy"], and Alice Edmonton [Mrs. Keppel], the wife of George Keppel, an army-officer, his favorite. The queen accepted her husband's infidelities over the years, and turned the other way. King Edward gave the monarchy a higher profile and restored some of its pageantry after the reclusiveness of the latter years of his late mother's reign. King Edward brought a luster to the royal court not seen in Britain since the "Regency" about century earlier. He instituted a new chivalric order, the "Order of Merit," to recognize distinction in the arts, sciences, and literature, as well as in military service. King Edward enjoyed hunting, horse-racing, and yachting as hobbies. His queen, Alexandra of Denmark, spent her time with the upbringing of their children. They had two sons and three daughters. Their eldest son Prince Albert-Victor ("Eddy") was something of a dandy that earned him the nickname "Prince Collar and Cuffs." His apathetic attitude and lack of interest towards his role as a royal prince and as the heir to the throne caused his parents much anxiety. He died premature of pneumonia (age 28) in 1892, to his mother's grief but to the general relief of the Royal Family as a whole. His death left King Edward with one surviving son, Prince George.
Though King Edward took little part in the formation of policy he however by his own influence and diplomacy kept Britain at peace during his reign, earning him the nickname "PEACE-MAKER". His influence took the British Empire out of its "imperial isolation" and into the world-community of nations by its foreign alliances with Japan (1902), France (1904), and Russia (1907). He, thus, pioneered an ambassadorial style of monarchy that was to somewhat replace its earlier political role. His mother's last Prime Minister, the Marquess of Salisbury, resigned in 1902. He was succeeded by Arthur James Balfour, who is best remembered as foreign-secretary (1916-19) for his "The Balfour Declaration" in favor of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Lord Balfour was replaced in 1905 with Henry Campbell-Bannerman. The monarchy came under criticism in 1908 due to the fact that following the resignation of Henry Campbell-Bannerman as Prime Minister due to illness, his successor Herbert Asquith had to travel to Southern France where King Edward was vacationing to be formally appointed as Prime Minster, and kiss King Edward's hand. It is the custom that the out-going Prime Minister must go to the palace to see the monarch to resign his/or her office; while the in-coming Prime Minster must go to the palace to see the Monarch to be officially appointed to his/or her office. It just so happened that the king was out of the country at the time, nevertheless, it was still the proper procedure for Asquith to take. The monarchy underwent some constitutional change during King Edward VII's reign. His complaints that his cabinet-ministers were failing to consult him at the formative stages of policy-making shows that government by his time had come to be not so much between the King and his ministers as it was between the King and his Prime Minister acting as representative of the cabinet-ministers, which had already decided on state-policy without the king's direct involvement or consultation. The reign of King Edward was marked by a growing divergence between the House of Commons, which was dominated by liberals, and the House of Lords, which was dominated by conservations, and, by the end of King Edward's reign he was faced with a constitutional crisis which was not resolved in his lifetime. The king and queen hosted the Olympic Games which were held in London in 1908, and gave honors to the winners. King Edward VII, a popular king, friendly, affectionate, and fatherly, died in 1910 (age 68) after a short illness in the ninth year of his reign. He was buried in St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.
GEORGE V succeeded to the throne (age 45) on his father's death in 1910. He was a private man, straightforward, and had a strong sense of duty. King/Emperor George, unlike his father, shunned fashionable society for a family-life with his queen, Mary of Teck, and their children, five sons and one daughter, and a family-centered atmosphere returned to the palace on his succession. King George grooming a neatly shaped beard and moustache was a very impressive-looking figure; his queen, Mary, was herself a very stately figure, a woman of regal bearing and dignity of carriage.
His reign began with a constitutional crisis in parliament between the House of Lords, or "Peers" [an hereditary body] and the House of Commons [an elected body] over who governs Britain, either the "peers" or the "people." Herbert Asquith, the Prime Minister, introduced legislation in parliament for powers to change the country's constitution and invoked the royal prerogative to enable him to do so. The Parliament Bill of 1911, signed by King George, stripped the House of Lords of most of its powers. It eliminated the powers of the British nobles, antiquating the aristocracy, and gave political power to the British people.
Then, came World-War I (1914-18). The war brought down the administration of Herbert Asquith, and Lloyd George became Prime Minister after Bonar Law was unable to form an administration. King George here set an important precedent when he refused the request of Bonar Law to dissolve parliament as a condition of him accepting office; and, ever since then it has been customary that no monarch entertain any bargain with a candidate for Prime Minister. The three major combatants of the war, King George V of Britain, Kaisar Wilhelm II of Germany, and Czar Nicholas II of Russia, were all cousins. The widespread hatred towards the Germans which the war produced posed problems for the royal family with its German connections, and in 1917 King George changed the family-surname from Saxe-Coburg [or Wettin] to "WINDSOR" [after the royal castle]. The Royal Family led the nation's war effort. King George spent the war years trying to keep up morale in Britain, and would cross over to the European continent from time to time to check progress at the front-lines, inspecting the troops, visiting the wounded, and awarding metals to deserving soldiers; while the queen busied herself inspecting canteens, organizing comforts for the troops, and inspecting hospitals.
The Irish took advantage of the war-time situation and at Easter Year 1916 rose up in rebellion against English rule under their leader Padraic Pearse and made an attempt to seize independence by force. The "Easter Rebellion" gained Ireland "Home Rule." After the war, elections were held throughout the United Kingdom. The sympathizers of the Irish "Easter Rebellion" won by a landslide in Ireland however refused to take the oath of allegiance to the British Monarch and therefore could not take their seats in the British Parliament, and, as they had planned formed their own parliament, the "Dail," the Irish Parliament, and declared independence (1919). This sparked a guerrilla-war in Ireland from 1919 to 1921 between royal British forces and a terrorist group of Irish radicals which called themselves the "I.R.A." [= "Irish Republican Army"], which was the private army of the republican Irish political party called "Sein Fein." King George made a radio broadcast to the Irish people for conciliation and called for a new era of peace, but it fell on deaf hears. The king's initiative was called "the greatest service performed by a British monarch in modern times," however, the I.R.A. countered by a propaganda campaign that hardened public opinion against anything less than independence. The Irish Free State was founded in 1922 with dominion status within the British Empire yet separate from the United Kingdom though still acknowledging the British monarch as the King of Ireland also, and 750 years of English rule in Ireland came to an end (1172-1922), however, not entirely, for six counties in Northern Ireland, Ulster, remained a part of the United Kingdom at their own request.
Britain, after the war, suffered economic troubles. Inside two years of the armistice Britain's economy slumped into recession and by 1921 there was nationwide high employment. Labor unrest, the rapidly worsening social conditions, and near revolution of the working-class influenced by the rise of Marxism in 1924 pressured the king to yield to public opinion and accept a socialist government which was known for its revolutionary ideas, which was put together by Ramsay MacDonald, the first Prime Minister to be appointed from the "Labor Party," which was unthinkable at that time for a country with a monarchy. The administration of MacDonald was unable to cope with the country's economic crisis; and his "minority government" plagued by rivaling factions within his own political party fell apart.
The king played the role of a constitutional chairman over the various administrations to come and go during his reign. It was during his reign that constitutional monarchy was said to have reached maturity, as it came to be realized that the powers of the crown could be used in a fair and impartial way by the monarch. The essence of constitutional-monarchy is that the sovereign remain politically impartial above party politics which is achieved by the sovereign acting on the advice of responsible ministers, who then become responsible for that advice and for any actions taken by the sovereign as a result.
A general strike paralyzed British industry in 1926 and Stanley Baldwin, the Prime Minister, refusing to negotiate with the labor-unions proclaimed a state of emergency. King George urged moderation and attempted to bring all opposing sides together to settle their differences, and summoned their leaders to talks at Buckingham Palace while at the sametime refusing to be identified with any of the parties. He acted the role as the living symbol of the nation who was above party politics. Mass unemployment in 1931 due to worldwide depression had a drastic effect and brought the country on the verge of economic collapse. The king responded by persuading the leaders of the three major political parties, Ramsay MacDonald (Labor), Stanley Baldwin (Conservative), and Herbert Samuel (Liberal), whom he summoned to the palace, to form a national coalition government and inevitably was criticized in consequence for getting involved in the country's politics. The king's intervention however made it easier for the political leaders to parley without being accused of weakness by their supporters. The "great depression" caused deep divisions among the British people. The king, sensing the country's mood, sought to lessen class feeling in Britain and promote national unity, and took on the public role of "father-of the-country" as the common father of all his subjects.
The sense of the importance of the king's role as the common father of all his subjects was what prompted King George in 1932 to make his first annual Christmas broadcast over the wireless medium of radio to all his subjects in all of his dominions worldwide, which started the tradition since continued by his successors of an annual Christmas message by the monarch to his/or her subjects.
The relationship between King George and his eldest son Edward [David], the Prince of Wales, was sometimes tense; for Prince Edward, unmarried, restless, and addicted to worldly pleasures, was unwilling to conform to the behavior expected of him as a royal prince. Edward, called "the society prince," was very popular and greatly admired in Britain for his good-looks, boyish-charm, and ease of manner, and by his extensive travels abroad came to be admired all over the world as the darling of all countries. He had a charisma in his early years as Prince of Wales which was unique. In those days, Prime Minister Lloyd George called the Prince of Wales "our greatest ambassador"; however, with the passage of time Edward during his later years as Prince of Wales began to show character traits which government ministers thought were unsuitable in an heir to the throne, and, even his father King George once remarked shortly before his death to Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin about his son, the Prince of Wales, saying that "after I am gone the boy will ruin himself inside twelve months." His words proved sadly to be prophetic.
One of King George V's greatest achievements was that he helped the monarchy survive the changes of a turbulent age, and in the process came to be one of Britain's best-loved and most respected kings. In 1935 King George celebrated twenty-five years on the throne by a jubilee and was cheered by his people as he went to and from St. Paul's Cathedral for the Thanksgiving Service. That night a huge crowd gathered outside the palace and sang "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow." The king was surprised at the extent of the enthusiasm and outpouring of affection for him by the people. "Do they really think so much of me?," the king asked; and added "but I am just an ordinary fellow." A few months later he was dead. King George V died in 1936 (age 70) in the twenty-fifth year of his reign. He was buried in St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.
EDWARD VIII succeeded to the throne (age 41) on his father's death in 1936. King/Emperor Edward, "impulsive, restless, and unreliable," found his royal duties "a dreary chore," and "was scarcely able to conceal his boredom during ceremonies of state." He, therefore, introduced a significant relaxation in royal protocol and downgraded the ceremonial side of the monarchy in a deliberate move towards a more democratic and egalitarian monarchy; and in an attempt to modernize the monarchy King Edward made a determined effort to broaden the contacts between the palace and the people, which made him very popular with the British people. King Edward took a genuine interest in the economic troubles of his country and was especially concerned about the plight of the poor during the "great depression," and began to involve himself in policy-making which was resented by his ministers. King Edward soon provoked a government crisis by his insistence to marry his mistress, Wallis Warfield, the sophisticated American wife of Ernest A. Simpson, an English businessman, her second husband, who divorced her husband to marry the king. Stanley Baldwin, the Prime Minister, felt that he had the right to advise against the proposed marriage, and if his advice was rejected by the king he could do no more but to resign, and it would then depend on whether the king could get anyone else who could form an administration; and it was pointed out to the king that if Baldwin resigned over the marriage issue nobody else would form a government, which would have left the king quite alone. The king, however, did have some supporters. It was reported to King Edward that many members of parliament were willing to support a king's government led by Winston Churchill, who staunchly supported King Edward saying "let the king have his winch," however, such a government would unlikely enjoy a majority in Parliament, and, therefore, the new Prime Minister would inevitably have to resign. Too, if Edward as king called for a general election, his private life would doubtless dominate party politics in the new parliament for at least a year, and would in all probability do irreparable damage to the monarchy and its mystique. The option of the king dissolving parliament and ruling the country without parliament was a course of action which Edward would not contemplate. He, thus, conceded to the inevitable. He quickly grew apathetic to any support that was offered to him apparently wishing to escape the publicity that attends the monarchy and to live a private life. The news of the "marriage crisis" was kept out of the British newspapers and only a few Britons knew what was going on behind the scenes even though government officials had watched its development for months, and by the time that the news finally did break the decisions of all those involved had already been made. For the country it was all over in only nine days, which gave the king little time to raise public support in his favor. There were demonstrations outside Buckingham Palace in his support, and even the Marxists united in their support for the king. Edward gave up the throne to marry his mistress and abdicated having reigned for only eleven months [20 Jan.-11 Dec.]. In a radio broadcast to his former subjects made at Fort Belvedere, his favorite residence, near Sunningdale, the ex-king Edward gave his reason for his actions saying that he could not do his duty without "the help and support of the woman I love." The abdication stunned the country as a national tragedy, and severely damaged the prestige of the monarchy. The fact that Edward had not yet been crowned and consecrated made his abdication appear to the country like annulling an unconsummated marriage. The "abdication crisis" would have figured more prominently in British History had it not been over so quickly and had it not been overshadowed by the prospect of war, which loomed over the country. Edward, the ex-king, now, the Duke of Windsor, the day after his abdication set sail into exile, while his brother, Prince Albert, the Duke of York, the same day, was proclaimed king as George VI. The ex-king, Edward, married his mistress and lived abroad in Paris, France, where the French government provided an elegant estate for their residence, the Bois de Boulogne. The ex-king lived an uneventful life in self-imposed exile participating with his wife in endless social-rounds until his death in 1972 (age 77). They had no children. His body was returned to Britain after his death, and he was buried in a simple tomb in the royal mausoleum at Frogmore. His widow, "Wallie," lived on for nearly fourteen years until 1986 and died too in their Paris home. She was buried beside him at Frogmore.
GEORGE VI ALBERT succeeded to the throne (age 40) on the abdication of his brother in 1936. He was a shy, retiring man, who never wanted to be king, but as king shouldered the burdens of kingship with courage and dignity. King/Emperor George VI was earnest, respectable, and orderly, and had an unshakeable sense of duty in contrast to the "devil-may-care" attitude of his elder brother, the ex-king [Edward VIII]. King George VI, a family-man, was married to Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, daughter of the 14th Earl of Strathmore [descended from the Irish Kings of Ailech, Ulster], and had two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret-Rose. His queen, Elizabeth, was an accomplished consort, radiant, and serene, and proved to be a great asset to the nation. The "abdication crisis" had seriously impaired the status of the monarchy, however, the new king and his queen by their examples greatly restored its prestige in the following years.
To break-down the artificial social barriers among the British classes, King George sponsored "boys‘-camps" during the summertime which gave those who attended the camps their first opportunity to meet and play with boys from different social backgrounds.
With the prospect of the outbreak of war looming over Europe, King George visited Canada and the United States [May-June] in 1939 to solidify their support for the coming conflict. It was the first time in history that a British sovereign had set foot in America, and the king and his queen received a tremendous welcome from the Canadian and American peoples.
The outbreak of World-War II (1939-1945) a few months later obliged the king to take an active role in political affairs, for in times of national-emergency the British people seem to instinctively look to the throne. The king, the focus of patriotism, loyalty, and national unity, made a broadcast to the nation and empire that together they had "to meet the challenge"…"with God's help." Neville Chamberlain was forced to resign as Prime Minister after the failure of his "appeasement" policy. The king at first favored Lord Halifax to replace him, but Halifax declined, and, the king later wrote: "then I knew there was only one person I could send for to form a government who had the confidence of the country, and that was Winston." Winston Churchill, an old friend of the Royal Family, accepted the King's invitation to form an administration and took over as Prime Minister.
The Irish Free State [Southern Ireland] took advantage of the war-time situation to sever its ties to the British Crown and became the Irish Republic or "Eire"; and cowardly remained neutral during the war to the nation's dishonor.
Britain, after the fall of France, stood alone for a year against the full fury of the axis powers, Japan, Germany, and Italy, and with its overseas empire also under attack defeat appeared likely faced at home with the threat of invasion by the Germans in Hitler's "Operation Sea-Lion" during the "Battle of Britain." Many families in Britain sent their children to Canada and to "the States" [U.S.A.] due to the threat of invasion but the king refused to send his two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret Rose. His queen said that their children could not leave without her, and that she would not leave without the king, and that the king would never leave. The palace was bombed several times during the "London Blitz" and on one occasion the royal family narrowly escaped injury or worst and could be seen picking their way through the rubble; and the queen was heard to have said that she was glad that they had been hit for now she could look the East-End in the face. The East-End of London had already suffered great damage on earlier bombing raids as the Royal Air Force, the R.A.F., and the German Air-Force, the Luftwaffe, fought for control of the skies over Britain. The visits of the king and queen throughout the country to bombed-damaged areas showing concern for their subjects under stress brought them face to face with the British people and did more than anything else for public morale and won the Royal Family the hearts of their subjects. One of the survivors of a bombing-raid on a British city said: "we suddenly felt that if the King was there everything was all right and the rest of the Nation was behind us." The king also made visits to his armies abroad to inspect his troops in France (1939), North Africa (1943), and Normandy (1944), and paid visits to the Imperial Fleet on several occasions. Britain, its empire, and its allies, mainly the U.S.A., its former American colonies, at length defeated the axis powers, Italy, Germany, and Japan, ending the war in 1945. The Royal Family led the country's victory celebrations, attended a Thanksgiving Service in St. Paul's, and received repeated ovations from enormous crowds when they appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
The end of World-War II saw the end of British supremacy and the rise of the United States [its former American colonies] as the dominant world-power. The British Empire after the war was rocked by rebellion everywhere which had been stirred up by nationalism during the war years. Churchill was turned out of office by the general election after the war, and his successor Clement Attlee (Labor Party) transformed Britain from an empire into a "welfare-state." The empire had become too big for Britain's economy to sustain, and though in the beginning the colonies were profitable to the mother-country by the end of the colonial era the costs far exceeded the benefits; and with Britain's economic troubles following the war Attlee began the dissolution of the empire, and British troops all over the world were eventually brought back home. The British pulled-out of Lebanon in 1945, Syria in 1946, and Trans-Jordan [Palestine] in 1948. The Indian sub-continent was divided into India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, before the British withdrew in 1947. And, Burma was granted its independence in 1948. Some dominions however wished to remain a part of the empire, and a new arrangement was worked out whereby the British Empire was transformed into the British Commonwealth, in which all the nations of the commonwealth were given equal status with Britain in a confederacy of independent nations under the British monarch as its "federal-head" or "parent-figure." The crown was redefined to conform to its role in the commonwealth countries as "the symbol of the free association of the independent member nations of the commonwealth." The autonomy of the separate nations or dominions of the commonwealth increased the importance of the monarchy, since the separate dominions of the commonwealth were no longer linked by their subordination to the British Parliament as in the days of the empire but rather now through their common allegiance to the British Crown, with the British Royal Family as the parent-family of the worldwide British race. The king in 1947 was obliged to drop his title "emperor" and adopt the title "Head of the Commonwealth." King George VI thus to date was the last emperor in Europe. The king adjusted to both the sweeping social revolution and the changing relationship between the empire and the crown, while at the sametime was very protective of the royal prerogative. Attlee was voted out of office in the next general election and Churchill was back as Prime Minister. He reversed many of Attlee's policies and tried to recover some of Britain's lost prestige and organized the Festival of Britain in 1951 on the model of the Great Exhibition of 1851 to celebrate the country's achievements, however, the glory of empire had already faded and was quickly becoming a dim memory of a past era. The king's health began to deteriorate that year and his daughter Princess Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip of Greece took on more of the burden of the king's public engagements. The crown-princess and prince embarked on a tour of the Commonwealth Countries early the next year, and while on the tour were suddenly called back home by the news of the king's death; and Elizabeth who had left Britain a princess returned to Britain as its queen. King George VI died in 1952 (age 56) in the fifteenth year of his reign. He was buried in St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.
ELIZABETH II succeeded to the throne (age 25) on the death of her father [King George VI] in 1952. The abdication of her uncle [King Edward VIII] in 1936 made Princess Elizabeth the heiress-presumptive to the throne at age ten and much attention was then focused on her as "the empire's little princess." She had just entered her teens at the outbreak of World-War II and during the war years grew into a young woman. The princess, upon coming of age, entered military-service, as is customary of members of the Royal Family. After the war, Elizabeth and her sister Margaret Rose accompanied their parents, the King and Queen, on a royal tour abroad to the Commonwealth Countries during which Elizabeth celebrated her 21st birthday. The occasion was marked by a moving radio broadcast Princess Elizabeth made to the "Commonwealth" in which she pledged her whole life to its service. Indeed, the Queen has carried out that pledge with self-sacrificing dedication her whole reign! Then, soon after the Royal Family's return home, receiving a tremendous welcome in London, the engagement of Princess Elizabeth was announced to the press. She was twenty-one on her marriage to Prince Philip of Greece in 1947.
The crown that Elizabeth inherited has been greatly reduced in power over the centuries, however, theoretically, the monarch still holds absolute power. The monarch is the sovereign, which the dictionary says means an autonomous exalted one possessing supreme authority over a body-politic, sphere, or nation-race. The doctrine that sovereignty is indivisible as well as inalienable makes the monarch supreme [over parliament or any other instrument-of-government or state-entity] save God alone. The powers of the sovereign according to the monarchy's royal ideology derive from God by "divine mandate." The monarch is not, as is sometimes thought, the head-of-state as if one of the estates of the realm, since the monarch is the embodiment of the state itself, even though the monarch is called the "head-of-state." The monarch is the living symbol of the nation, its sovereignty, and its existence. The monarchy with its "divine-mandate" attracts to itself reverence, and thereby consecrates the actions of the government, which are all carried out in the monarch's name. The monarchy is central to the political system of the "United Kingdom," which is basically unchanged in over a thousand years. The powers that the government have stem from the royal prerogative, which is the basis and essence of the whole governmental system. The government is the monarch's government and all business of government is done in the monarch's name. The functions of the crown are exercised on the monarch's behalf by his/or her ministers, especially the "prime minister," who, along with all government officials, military officers, and civil service employees, are technically the servants of the monarch.
Most people tend to assume that the political role of the monarchy is wholly symbolic, longtime stripped of its powers, however, in fact, the monarchy continues to have a large impact on the character of British politics, and the monarch still plays the pivotal role in the British political system. The reaction to this by republicans has been to make the royal prerogative an issue of public debate. The "royal prerogative" refers to "the discretionary powers of the monarch for whose exercise no instrument of government, such as parliament, is needed; and, though the British monarch must in general act on the advice of his/or her ministers, the monarch still retains personal prerogatives where he/or she may act without advice. In the everyday business of government these prerogatives are to appoint a Prime Minister, the summoning or dissolving parliaments, overseeing the machinery of government, etc.; but, under emergency conditions, the monarch could also exercise the prerogative of appointing and dismissing government ministers, court judges, or military officers, take personal command of the country's armed-forces, order arrests, or take any justifiable actions needed to preserve, protect, and defend the nation. It is difficult to estimate the extent of the monarch's personal prerogatives without a written constitution to define the royal prerogative, however, the historian Walter Bagehot summed up the rights of a constitutional-monarch, as these: (a) the right to be consulted; (b) the right to encourage; and (c) the right to warn.
The monarchy unites in itself all three branches of government, the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary. The monarch is the chief executive and gives force to all laws, and appoints a "prime minister" who provides the administration and makes policy for the monarch. The sovereign is the head of the legislature, called the "Monarch-in-Parliament," as the "source of law" [and its sole interpreter]. All acts of parliament are proclaimed in the monarch's name, and the monarch must sign any bill for it to become law. Too, the monarch is the head of the judiciary as the "Fount of Justice" which is rendered in the monarch's name by judges who are appointed by the monarch, and all the sitting judges in the country have sworn oaths of allegiance personally to the monarch. The courts are the monarch's courts; and, as such, there can not be the possibility that the monarch could be taken to court by any of his/or her subjects. Any one of his/or her subjects may appeal to the monarch in any matter of dispute for a final ruling, which ideally at least will also be an act of justice. The monarch is also the commander-in-chief of the British Armed Forces, which are called "royal" forces. The monarch as "governor" of The Anglican Church appoints its primate, the Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, who is the spiritual-leader of the worldwide "Protestant Episcopal Church." And, as "Head of the Commonwealth of Nations" the British monarch presides over a worldwide community of nations as a "federal-head" giving unity to multiple nations of diverse cultures. The monarch remains the "Fount of Honors" which is the role of the monarch as the sole awarder of honors, such as knighthoods, titles, dignities, etc., and, as such, the yearly honors-list has increased during the Queen's reign to include or recognize the achievements of persons from every element in society. The Queen holds several investitures each year, in which those honored receive their orders, decorations, and medals presented to them personally by the monarch. The honor-system has lately come under criticism as reflecting the class structure in society, which is under-pinned by the monarchy. This is untrue, for even the governments of classless republics give awards to its deserving citizens.
The monarchy has been criticized lately as having the effect of making society hierarchal with everyone having a place in society and everyone being in their place, however, this is untrue, for the machinery of society no longer works that way in Britain. Though the monarchy stands at the apex of a society divided into classes, it, nevertheless, unifies British society, hence it still appeals to all classes and yet is not identified with any class. For, all ranks in British society are unseen in the eyes of the monarch for no matter of rank all are equally the monarch's subjects. And, with everyone equally subjects of the crown, the monarch serves as a unifying force in society preventing its fragmentation, compartmentalization, and segregation, giving the British People a sense of nationality and connectedness with each other, which makes Britain a tribal society although it is a modern cosmopolitan country, which is the role of the monarch as the parent-figure [father/or mother] of the whole nation. The monarchy symbolizes the unity of the worldwide English-speaking People and the nation's sovereignty.
The monarchy today is struggling to adapt to the new circumstances of modern times, to find a role in a modern democratic society; since the Royal Family is suppose to provide the nation's "officer-corps," most of those offices are now elective and the so-called "minor royals" are today searching for new roles for themselves. The most important task of the Royal Family, of course, is to assist the Monarch in the performance of his/or her duties, ceremonial tasks, and social engagements.
The Queen reigns as a constitutional-monarch whereby the crown has come to be the means and instrument of giving effect to the people's will as expressed by their representatives in parliament, whose political parties elect their own leaders with the leader of the majority party usually appointed Prime Minister by the Queen. Elizabeth, described as "reserved and sensible," has performed her difficult life-long job of arduous days of ceaseless official duties, public appearances, making speeches, with great energy, professionalism, and dedication. She is on 24-hour call, and never off-duty! The Queen has herself done much to modernize the British Monarchy to make the monarchy more accessible to the people. She has used garden parties, informal lunches, and walk-abouts. The invitations to the garden parties are made up to represent a cross-section of the general population; those invitations to the "informal lunches" are to persons who are distinguished in their line of work, business, or career; and, in the so-called "walk-abouts" the Queen meets with the general public at large. Too, the queen has opened the doors of the palace to mass media, which the press has in some cases over-stepped its manners.
The Queen keeps track of the daily business of government. She is sent dispatches daily from her ministers that she reads and approves that have to do with foreign and domestic policy, and meets weekly [every Tuesday] with the Prime-Minister who reports to the palace. The Queen's first Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, retired in 1955. His successor Anthony Eden had to deal with the Suez Crisis in 1956, which fiasco ended with his resignation. The appointment of Harold Macmillan as Prime Minister by the Queen in 1957 in preference to the widely expected candidate R.A. Butler following a deadlock election, was a surprise to the British public for which the Queen came under criticism. The de-colonization of Africa took place under Harold Macmillan, in a series of ceremonies officiated by the Queen in each of the various countries receiving their independence. [The reign of Queen Elizabeth II has seen nearly all of Britain's former dominions gain their independence: Sudan (1956); Ghana [Gold Coast] and Malaya (1957); Cyprus (1959); Somaliland, Nigeria, and Cameroon (1960); Kuwait, Sierra Leone, Tanganyika, and South Africa (1961); Uganda, Samoa, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago (1962); Borneo, Kenya, Zanzibar, and Sarawak (1963); Malta, and Zambia, (1964); Singapore, Gambia, and Maldives (1965); Guyana, Botswana, Lesotho, Barbados, and Malawi (1966); Aden [Yemen] (1967); Mauritius, Nauru, and Swaziland (1968); Zimbabwe [Rhodesia] (1969/1980); Tonga (1970); Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar (1971); Bahamas (1973); Grenada (1974); Papua New Guinea (1975); Seychelles (1976); Dominica (1978); Kiribati [Gilbert Islands] (1979); Vanuatu (1980); Belize (1981); Brunei (1984); Fiji (1987); Namibia (1990); and Hong Kong (1997), all precious jewels lost from the crown.] Macmillan suddenly retired on grounds of ill-health in 1963 and the Queen asked Alec Douglas-Home to form an interim government until elections could be held by the general public, which caused a furor among the British press. Harold Wilson was elected to office in 1964, and formed a Labor Government. He had to deal with the country's economic troubles due to the high costs of the welfare-state and heavily taxed the nobility and drastically cut-back on the costs of the monarchy. He lost the 1970 elections in a major upset to Edward Heath [Conservative]. Heath was beset by a miners' strike in Britain and faced a civil war in Ulster [Northern Ireland] between Catholics and Protestants, which broke out in 1969 and became known as "The Troubles." In 1972 the Queen used the occasion of her 25th wedding anniversary to make a memorable speech at Guildhall in which she made an unusual appeal to her people of the "United Kingdom" not to breakup the British "union" as was the general mood throughout the British Isles at the time. Wilson staged a comeback in 1974 winning the election by a narrow margin. Heath lost the election but did not immediately resign, but spent several days trying to put together a coalition government. It was reported that the Queen told Health that if he could put together an administration that she was prepared to accept it; so despite the fact that Heath had been defeated in the general election, the Queen was prepared to keep Heath as Prime Minister, for which the Queen came under criticism by the British public. It was only because Heath could not get enough supporters together that the Queen invited Harold Wilson, whose party narrowly won the election, to form an administration. Wilson, during his service to the Queen as her Prime Minster, was faced with widespread labor tensions in England, a resurgence of nationalism in Scotland and Wales, and the continuing rebellion in Ireland. Wilson surprised everyone by abruptly resigning in 1976. His successor James Callaghan was unable to successfully deal with the country's continuing economic problems. The Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977 created a temporary diversion from the country's economic woes; but after all the celebrations were over the country's economic problems returned to trouble Callaghan. He lost the election in 1979 to Margaret Thatcher, who was Britain's first woman Prime Minister. She introduced tough monetary policies to turn around the country's declining economy which made her unpopular, but gained momentary acclaim for Britain's victory over Argentina in the Falklands' War in 1982 [which the press dubbed "the empire strikes back," as a "pun" referring to the movie], however, again lost popularity over a poll-tax she introduced which caused a storm of protest from the public. Her own party in parliament dropped her and chose John Major as their new leader in 1990. The Queen thereupon was obliged to dismiss Margaret Thatcher and appoint John Major as the new Prime Minister. John Major had to manage the unfortunate accumulation of problems that gathered around the Royal Family in the 1990s, especially the break-up of the marriages of the Queen's children, which became a sort of royal "soap-opera" in the newspapers, that gave rise to the "People's Rebellion" of 1992, which was encouraged by the tabloids that exploited the private troubles the Royal Family was having in such a way as to further their editors' own republican sympathies. The disastrous fire at Windsor Castle in 1992 seemed to be a metaphor for the divine chastisement that had come upon the Royal Family, and oddly provoked anger rather than sympathy for the Royal Family from the British public. The response was totally out of character of the British people. As a gesture to appease public anger the Queen yielded following the Windsor fire and in her capacity as a private person began paying taxes on her personal income like everyone else. This, however, is a paradox, that is, taxes are paid to the crown, then, how can the one who wears the crown pay taxes to themselves? The Queen later referred to the events of 1992 as her "annus horribilis" ["horrible year"]. The commemoration of VE-Day in 1996 put the Royal Family back in the spotlight to lead the nation's remembrance celebrations. Prime Minister John Major was defeated in a general election in 1997, and Tony Blair won in a landslide victory. The tragic death in 1997 of the divorced-wife of the Prince of Wales, Princess Diana, in a car crash in a Paris underpass as it sped from pursuing paparazzi shocked the nation. The news was followed by an extraordinary week of national grief by the British people. For a moment it seemed that there was a huge gain in the popularity of the Royal Family; but since then some disloyal royal household staff members have deliberately leaked real or imagined shenanigans of the "royals" to the press, creating scandals attached to the "royals" in recent years. These "Judas Iscariot" types have betrayed the trust of their employers and gone public with classified information in exchange for money and a brief flirtation with celebrity. This cheap and nasty publicity appears likely to continue while there is money to be made at the Royal Family's expense, unless the British public demands these papers' editors, who control the press, be held accountable for the harm they have done to the nation. The fiftieth birthday of the Prince of Wales in 1998 was celebrated by a party organized by the Queen in support for her eldest son. The policy of Tony Blair, the new Prime Minster, has been to decentralize power by reviving the national parliaments of Wales, Scotland, and Ulster, in 1999, giving those counties self-government for the first time in centuries of domination by England's Parliament, with the British Monarchy as the active force unifying the various countries of the "United Kingdom" together as one British Nation. Here, the unifying role of the crown is indispensable in unifying the nations of the "United Kingdom" into the British "Union." The Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002 saw an outpouring of joyous emotion and celebration in recognition of her fifty years on the throne. There were many spontaneous demonstrations of loyalty and affection from the crowds along the processional route to and from the Thanksgiving Service at St. Paul's Cathedral; and, the Queen was cheered by thousands as she acknowledged their goodwill standing on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. Many thousands more attended street parties and other celebrations to honor the Queen's Jubilee.
The unbroken royal-line of descent of Britain's kings and queens gives Britain continuity in its history, heritage, and culture. The monarchy preserves the nation's traditions, provides stability and continuity, and protects the nation's institutions. H.M. Queen Elizabeth II symbolizes thousands of years of British History shared by all people of the British Isles. The continuity of past, present, and future, are united in one figure, the monarch, and, in one symbol, that is, the crown. The Queen, through various descent-lines on the British Royal Family-Tree, is 36th in descent from Alfred "The Great", the first King of England; 38th in descent from Rhodri "Mawr", the first Prince of Wales; 37th in descent from Kenneth MacAlpin, the first King of Scotland; 51st in descent from Niall "Mor", the first King of Ireland; and, 33rd in descent from Hugh "Capet",the first King of France. H.M. Queen Elizabeth II is also 48th in descent from the great King Arthur of Britain; 56th in descent from the British Emperor Carausius; 69th in descent from the British kingCassivellaunus, who fought Julius Caesar in 55/54BC; and, according to how one tabulates the entries in the regnal-lists, is the 263rd British Monarch from Brutus, the first Iron Age "King of Britain" ["Brehin"], over 3000 years ago! The British Royal House represents in itself a union of all of the royal families of the nations of the British Isles and their legacies as separate branches on its Royal Family-Tree.
The British Royal Family is sometimes considered to comprise the first fifty people in the royal line of succession. The Queen and the Prince-Consort have three sons, Charles, the Prince of Wales, Andrew, the Duke of York, and Edward, the Earl of Wessex, and a daughter, Anne, the "Princess-Royal." The Prince of Wales, by his late wife, Diana Spencer, has two sons, namely, Prince William and Prince Harry [Henry]. The Duke of York, by his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, has two daughters, namely, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie. The Earl of Wessex, by his wife Sophie Rhys-Jones, to date have no issue. The "Princess-Royal," by her first husband, Mark Phillips, has a son and a daughter, namely, Peter Phillips and Zara Phillips. The heir-apparent to the throne is the Prince of Wales, the Queen's eldest son, who is in line to someday succeed the Queen on the throne as the first British monarch of the House of Oldcastle [Oldenburg], his father's house. The succession of the Prince of Wales will represent a change in dynasty no matter what surname the dynasty assumes. For, Prince Philip of Greece, the Queen's Prince-Consort, is an "Oldcastle" [anglicization of "Oldenburg"] but took his surname "Mountbatten" [anglicization of "Battenburg"] from his mother, Alice, the sister of Louis, Earl Mountbatten, when he was naturalized as a British subject at the time of his marriage to the then Princess [now Queen] Elizabeth. Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, the son of Prince Andrew of Greece, the son of King George I of Greece, the son of King Christian IX of Denmark, the son of Duke William of Glucksburg, descends in the male-line through the Dutch counts of Oldenburg from Elimar [who inherited Oldenburg from his wife, Rixa], the son of Helyas "The Swan-Knight," a celebrated hero of the First Crusade, the son of Warin of Lorraine. There are three theories of the parentage of Warin of Lorraine, which are: (a) that he was the son of Otto of Lorraine, the son of Charles of Lorraine (d994), the Carolingian heir; or (b) that he was the son [or grandson] of Otto, Count of Chiny [Warcq], the son of Albert "The Pious," Count of Vermandois, etc., who were Carolingians in the male-line descended from Charlemagne; and, (c) that Warin of Lorraine may be identified with "Lohengrin" of medieval romance, an epic figure, the son of Otto of Lillefort, the "descendant" [not "son"], of Parzival, who was himself descended from a long line of "Grail-Kings," who descended from Joseph of Arimathea, the uncle of The Virgin Mary, and, a scion of the Davidic Dynasty, as the story goes. Helyas "The Swan-Knight" was the last in the long-line of "Grail-Kings." The high-point of Helyas' life was in 1099 when upon entering Jerusalem [accompanying his son, Geoffrey of Bouillon] following the First Crusade he returned The Holy Grail to The Church of The Holy Sepulchre and placed it himself on the high-altar. The dynasty's "origin-story" is the legend of Helyas "The Swan-Knight" which takes place during the last half of the eleventh century. He arrives on the scene when the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV (1056-1106) held court at Neumagen to decide a claim by the Count of Frankfort for the duchy of Bouillon, then held by Ida of Louvain, the widow of the Duke of Bouillon, its duchess. The matter was decided by hand-to-hand combat between the Count of Frankfort and Helyas of Lorraine, who championed the duchess, who legend says sailed up the Meuse on a boat drawn by a swan by means of a silver chain, whence his epithet. He won the battle, married her, and became the Duke of Bouillon in right of his wife, by whom he begot Geoffrey of Bouillon, Leader of the First Crusade 1096-99; Protector of The Holy Sepulchre 1099-1100. The legend was embellished by medieval romance that says before their marriage Helyas warned the duchess that if she ever asked his identity he would have to leave her. As the story goes she later tempted disregarding her husband's warning asked him his identity. [The wife's desire to know her husband's "true self" appears here to parallel the myth of Cupid and Psyche.] He rebuked her sorrowfully, and, instantly the boat drawn by the swan re-appeared on the river next to where they were, Helyas stepped into the boat, and the swan swam with him in the boat out of sight of his sorrowing wife. That is medieval romance, but the fact is Helyas divorced Ida of Louvain, soon after the birth of their son, Geoffrey, and she [his ex-wife] married thirdly Eustace II, Count of Boulogne. Helyas, meanwhile, had come to the aid of Elsa of Brabant, divorced wife of Regnier, Count of Hainault, against a suitor, Frederic de Telramund, who claimed she had promised to marry him. Instead, Elsa of Brabant married Helyas of Lorraine. It was his second marriage, as well as hers. The marriage produced a son, Elimar (Egilmar), who married Rixa (Rikissa), the heiress of Oldenburg, and became the Count of Oldenburg ["Oldcastle"]. Helyas divorced Elsa of Brabant soon after the birth of their son, Elimar, and, she married thirdly Hajo, Count of Uprustringen. Helyas, meanwhile, married thirdly Beatrix of Cleves [identified with Belayne of Lizaborye in medieval romance], daughter of Rutger II, Count of Cleves, and, widow of the Count of Lizaborye. The marriage produced a son, Dietrich [II]. Soon after, Helyas divorced Beatrix of Cleves, who married thirdly Dietrich I, Count of Cleves. Legend says that Helyas was murdered by armed men sent by his ex-wife [not by her parents as one romance says, who had already passed away by this time], circa 1101. Helyas "The Swan-Knight" is reckoned as the founder of the House of Oldcastle ["Oldenburg"]. His descendants, of which Prince Philip is a scion, have already come into possession of the thrones of Denmark, Russia, and Greece, through marriages with heiresses, and now are poised to inherit the British throne. The House of Oldcastle will no doubt reign over Britain in the 21st Century, or in the coming "New Age."
Some material presented will contain links, quotes, ideologies, etc., the contents of which should be understood to first, in their whole, reflect the views or opinions of their editors, and second, are used in my personal research as "fair use" sources only, and not espousement one way or the other. Researching for 'truth' leads one all over the place...a piece here, a piece there. As a researcher, I hunt, gather and disassemble resources, trying to put all the pieces into a coherent and logical whole. I encourage you to do the same. And please remember, these pages are only my effort to collect all the pieces I can find and see if they properly fit into the 'reality aggregate'.
I've come to realize that 'truth' boils down to what we 'believe' the facts we've gathered point to. We only 'know' what we've 'experienced' firsthand. Everything else - what we read, what we watch, what we hear - is what someone else's gathered facts point to and 'they' 'believe' is 'truth', so that 'truth' seems to change in direct proportion to newly gathered facts divided by applied plausibility. Though I believe there is 'truth', until someone celestial who 'knows' all the facts parts the heavens and throws us a scroll titled "Here Are ALL The Facts And Lies In The Order They Happened," I can't know for sure exactly what "the whole truth' on any given subject is, and what applies to me applies to everyone.
~Gail Bird Allen
Never in your long ascendancy will you lose the power to recognize your associates of former existences. Always, as you ascend inward in the scale of life, will you retain the ability to recognize and fraternize with the fellow beings of your previous and lower levels of experience. Each new translation or resurrection will add one more group of spirit beings to your vision range without in the least depriving you of the ability to recognize your friends and fellows of former estates.
Princess Bride 1987 Wallace Shawn (Vizzini) and Mandy Patinkin (Inigo Montoya)
Vizzini: HE DIDN'T FALL? INCONCEIVABLE.
Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
And here is mystery: The more closely man approaches God through love, the greater the reality -- actuality -- of that man. The more man withdraws from God, the more nearly he approaches nonreality -- cessation of existence. When man consecrates his will to the doing of the Father's will, when man gives God all that he has, then does God make that man more than he is.
"And do you not remember that I said to you once before that, if you had your spiritual eyes anointed, you would then see the heavens opened and behold the angels of God ascending and descending? It is by the ministry of the angels that one world may be kept in touch with other worlds, for have I not repeatedly told you that I have other sheep not of this fold?"
But we know that there dwells within the human mind a fragment of God, and that there sojourns with the human soul the Spirit of Truth; and we further know that these spirit forces conspire to enable material man to grasp the reality of spiritual values and to comprehend the philosophy of universe meanings. But even more certainly we know that these spirits of the Divine Presence are able to assist man in the spiritual appropriation of all truth contributory to the enhancement of the ever-progressing reality of personal religious experience—God-consciousness.
When you are through down here, when your course has been run in temporary form on earth, when your trial trip in the flesh is finished, when the dust that composes the mortal tabernacle "returns to the earth whence it came"; then, it is revealed, the indwelling "Spirit shall return to God who gave it." There sojourns within each moral being of this planet a fragment of God, a part and parcel of divinity. It is not yet yours by right of possession, but it is designedly intended to be one with you if you survive the mortal existence.
And the greatest of all the unfathomable mysteries of God is the phenomenon of the divine indwelling of mortal minds. The manner in which the Universal Father sojourns with the creatures of time is the most profound of all universe mysteries; the divine presence in the mind of man is the mystery of mysteries.
To every spirit being and to every mortal creature in every sphere and on every world of the universe of universes, the Universal Father reveals all of his gracious and divine self that can be discerned or comprehended by such spirit beings and by such mortal creatures. God is no respecter of persons, either spiritual or material. The divine presence which any child of the universe enjoys at any given moment is limited only by the capacity of such a creature to receive and to discern the spirit actualities of the supermaterial world.
Paradise is the eternal center of the universe of universes and the abiding place of the Universal Father, the Eternal Son, the Infinite Spirit, and their divine co-ordinates and associates. This central Isle is the most gigantic organized body of cosmic reality in all the master universe. Paradise is a material sphere as well as a spiritual abode. All of the intelligent creation of the Universal Father is domiciled on material abodes; hence must the absolute controlling center also be material, literal. And again it should be reiterated that spirit things and spiritual beings are real.
Culture presupposes quality of mind; culture cannot be enhanced unless mind is elevated. Superior intellect will seek a noble culture and find some way to attain such a goal. Inferior minds will spurn the highest culture even when presented to them ready-made.
True liberty is the associate of genuine self-respect; false liberty is the consort of self-admiration. True liberty is the fruit of self-control; false liberty, the assumption of self-assertion. Self-control leads to altruistic service; self-admiration tends towards the exploitation of others for the selfish aggrandizement of such a mistaken individual as is willing to sacrifice righteous attainment for the sake of possessing unjust power over his fellow beings.
How dare the self-willed creature encroach upon the rights of his fellows in the name of personal liberty when the Supreme Rulers of the universe stand back in merciful respect for these prerogatives of will and potentials of personality! No being, in the exercise of his supposed personal liberty, has a right to deprive any other being of those privileges of existence conferred by the Creators and duly respected by all their loyal associates, subordinates, and subjects.
There is no error greater than that species of self-deception which leads intelligent beings to crave the exercise of power over other beings for the purpose of depriving these persons of their natural liberties. The golden rule of human fairness cries out against all such fraud, unfairness, selfishness, and unrighteousness.