List of English monarchs

This list of kings and reigning queens of the Kingdom of England begins with Alfred the Great, who initially ruled Wessex, one of the seven Anglo-Saxon kingdoms which later made up modern England. Alfred styled himself King of the Anglo-Saxons from about 886, and while he was not the first king to claim to rule all of the English, his rule represents the start of the first unbroken line of kings to rule the whole of England, the House of Wessex.[1]

Great Britain during the Early Middle Ages. Listed in red are The Heptarchy, the collective name given to the seven main Anglo-Saxon petty kingdoms located in the southeastern two-thirds of the island that were unified to form the Kingdom of England.

Arguments are made for a few different kings thought to have controlled enough Anglo-Saxon kingdoms to be deemed the first king of England. For example, Offa of Mercia and Egbert of Wessex are sometimes described as kings of England by popular writers, but it is no longer the majority view of historians that their wide dominions are part of a process leading to a unified England. Historian Simon Keynes states, for example, that "Offa was driven by a lust for power, not a vision of English unity; and what he left was a reputation, not a legacy."[2] This refers to a period in the late 8th century when Offa achieved a dominance over many of the kingdoms of southern England, but this did not survive his death in 796.[3][4] Likewise, in 829 Egbert of Wessex conquered Mercia, but he soon lost control of it.

It was not until the late 9th century that one kingdom, Wessex, had become the dominant Anglo-Saxon kingdom. Its king, Alfred the Great, was overlord of western Mercia and used the title King of the Angles and Saxons, but he never ruled eastern and northern England, which was then known as the Danelaw, having earlier been conquered by the Danes from southern Scandinavia. His son Edward the Elder conquered the eastern Danelaw, but Edward's son Æthelstan became the first king to rule the whole of England when he conquered Northumbria in 927, and he is regarded by some modern historians as the first true king of England.[3][4] The title "King of the English" or Rex Anglorum in Latin, was first used to describe Æthelstan in one of his charters in 928. The standard title for monarchs from Æthelstan until John was "King of the English". Cnut the Great, a Dane, was the first to call himself "King of England". In the Norman period "King of the English" remained standard, with occasional use of "King of England" or Rex Anglie. From John's reign onwards all other titles were eschewed in favour of "King" or "Queen of England".

The Principality of Wales was incorporated into the Kingdom of England under the Statute of Rhuddlan in 1284, and in 1301 King Edward I invested his eldest son, the future King Edward II, as Prince of Wales. Since that time, the eldest sons of all English monarchs, except for King Edward III,[lower-alpha 1] have borne this title.

After the death of Queen Elizabeth I without issue in 1603, King James VI of Scotland inherited the English crown as James I of England, joining the crowns of England and Scotland in personal union. By royal proclamation, James styled himself "King of Great Britain", but no such kingdom was actually created until 1707, when England and Scotland united during the reign of Queen Anne to form the new Kingdom of Great Britain, with a single British parliament sitting at Westminster. This marked the end of the Kingdom of England as a sovereign state.

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