England is known among other things for its monarchical regime. This is one of the few nations that still maintain kings and queens, even though they exercise symbolic power today since the executive and legislative powers are in the hands of Parliament.
This type of system generates a lot of curiosity and creates a spectacular atmosphere around royalty.
Without further ado, let us take a look at the most respected kings and queens in England.
12 Most Important Kings and Queens in England
1. Alfred the Great (849-899)
First, on our list of the Most Important Kings and Queens in England, Alfred the Great ruled the kingdom of Wessex from 871 to 899. As the youngest son and following tradition, it was unexpected that he would ever occupy the throne. So it is likely that the plan for him would be to become a member of the Church.
With the death of the brothers, Alfredo can then occupy the crown, at the age of 21.
His reign had many challenges, mainly conflicts with Danish Vikings, who managed to fight and recover the city of London, previously taken by the invaders.
Alfredo also had cultural importance in England, as he valued literature and was concerned with the quality of education during his government.
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Inspired by Charlemagne, Alfred the Great is seen as one of the greatest sovereigns of the High Middle Ages and strived to unify and strengthen the English kingdom.
2. William the Conqueror (?-1087)
William the Conqueror was the Duke of Normandy and an illegitimate son, so he was also called William the Bastard.
His reign in England was from 1066 to 1087, being the first Norman king in the territory, after conquering it in battle.
Thus, the period in which he ruled was defined by the constant maintenance of his dominion over England. As a way of demarcating his power, William ordered the construction of huge forts, such as the Tower of London.
3. Ricardo I (1157-1199)
Due to his enormous military capacity, Richard I became known as Richard Coeur de Leão, ruling for ten years, from 1189 to 1199.
From a young age, he demonstrated his strategic intelligence, commanding an army for the first time at age 16 and defeating invaders in Poitou County.
He was important even during the Third Crusade as a Christian commander, winning battles against the Muslim leader Saladin.
He became an important character in the history of England and is mostly remembered for his nickname.
4. Edward I (1239-1307)
Edward Long Legs, well known as Edward I was called because of his stature, and ruled England from 1272 to 1307, the year of his death.
Another nickname for the monarch was Hammer of the Scots, for having won battles in the Scotland region.
One of his greatest concerns was to radically reform the administrative and legislative aspects of England.
His passage to the throne contributed to the resumption of a stronger government, as his father Henry III did not have great success in the previous reign.
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5. Henry V (1386-1422)
Henry V was also known as Henry of Monmouth, as he was born in Monmouth Castle in Wales. He ruled from 1413 to 1422.
His creation took place away from royalty, as he was not a direct descendant who could ascend to the throne.
However, his father managed to become king by taking over from his cousin Richard II.
Thus, Henry V, now Prince of Wales, takes over the Welsh administration at the age of 16, fighting many battles as well.
In 1413 he becomes king, succeeding his father.
At first, he occupied himself with appeasing internal conflicts, in order to be able to think about foreign policies and try to solve the Hundred Years War, which had been going on since 1337.
6. Anne Boleyn (?-1536)
Anne Boleyn is one of the best-known royalty figures in English history.
Henry VIII’s second wife, her union with the nobleman was marked by conflicts since when they met, the king was married to Catherine of Aragon.
At the time, the Catholic Church did not allow the dissolution of marriages, so Henry VIII opposes the religious institution, which ends up generating the creation of the Anglican Church.
The marriage lasted from 1533 to 1536. As a nobleman, Anne tried to introduce French culture into the English court, having been raised in France.
The couple insistently tried to generate a male heir, but Anne Boleyn was unsuccessful in their pregnancies, which angered the king.
Henry VIII was moving away from his wife and began a relationship with Joana Seymour, Ana’s aia.
The relationship became more and more difficult until Anna was accused of adultery, incest, and high treason, being executed by order of the king in May 1536.
7. King Henry VIII (1491-1547)
Henry VIII, who starred in the conflicting romance with Anne Boleyn, broke with Catholicism and created the Anglican Church, was a king who ruled from 1509 to 1547. His government was also marked by battles against France.
Henry VIII had a total of six wives. In his youth, it is said that he was cultured and had a charismatic temperament. However, at the end of his life, obese and debilitated, he is described as selfish, greedy, and insecure.
8. Queen Mary (1516-1558)
Mary, the only daughter of Catherine of Aragon and King Henry VIII, ascended the throne in 1553, remaining until her death in 1558.
When the father divorced the mother, Mary was considered an illegitimate daughter and dropped from the line of succession to the throne. But, through a law of 1543, she again obtained the right to become queen.
Her greatest ambition was to restore Catholicism in England and outlaw Protestantism, which had been imposed by his father and half-brother Edward VI.
A fervent Catholic, Maria became known as the Bloody Mary, due to her executions and persecutions of Protestants.
9. Elizabeth I (1533-1603)
Elizabeth I, also called Elizabeth I, was known as the Virgin Queen. She governed England and Ireland from 1558 to 1603, when she died.
Daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, she was considered an illegitimate daughter, due to her parent’s marriage annulment and her mother’s execution, when Elizabeth was only two and a half years old.
However, with the political upheavals, she succeeds Queen Mary and makes a reign with the help of advisers, with Baron Burghley as the main influencer.
Her way of reigning was moderate, but one of her greatest achievements was having defeated Spain in a war in 1588.
During her reign, England experienced a period of cultural effervescence, especially in literature. The moment was called the Elizabethan Period and featured writers and playwrights William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe.
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10. Queen Victoria (1819-1901)
While we still explore the Most Important Kings and Queens, Have you ever heard of the Victorian Era? Well then, this period took place in England during the reign of Queen Victoria, from 1837 to 1901.
Victoria took possession of the throne as a young lady, at age 18, and ruled England and Ireland for 63 years, the country’s second-longest reign. She was also crowned Empress of India.
During the time she was in power, England experienced great technological transformations and abolitionist attempts. However, it was also a conservative age with regard to morality.
In art, the prevailing movement was Romanticism and there was a revaluation of the aesthetics and myths of the Middle Ages.
Queen Victoria had a total of 9 children with Albert de Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, her cousin whom she married in 1840.
Thus, it gave rise to a great lineage of nobles, who are spread over royal families in several countries in Europe. Therefore, the queen was also known as the grandmother of Europe.
11. King George VI (1895-1952)
George VI, the second son of George V, was not prepared to inherit the throne. His eldest brother, Eduardo, was expected to assume the post.
In fact, Edward was crowned king, and ruled for less than a year, abdicating the throne to marry an American socialite.
Thus, George VI, who had followed a military career, begins his reign, ruling from 1936 until his death in 1952.
George married Lady Elizabeth in 1923 and they had two daughters, Elizabeth and Margareth.
His reign was marked by World War II, a period in which the king remained in the country and visited battlefronts, becoming known for his courage.
It was during his rule that India and Pakistan became independent from England and that the country began its decline.
George VI died in 1952 due to health problems, giving the crown to his eldest daughter Elizabeth II.
12. Queen Elizabeth II (1926-)
still on our list of Most Important Kings and Queens – Queen Elizabeth II. Currently, who occupies the English throne is Queen Elizabeth II, daughter of George VI.
She was crowned queen at age 25, in 1952, having been the longest-serving monarch. In 2017, she celebrated 65 years of reign with the Jubilee of Sapphire.
Elizabeth married a distant cousin, Philip Mountbatten, and with him, they had four children.
In her reign, the queen, also called Lilibeth, witnessed the intense transformations that took place from the second half of the 20th century onwards, such as the sexual revolution, feminist achievements, and changes in culture and society.
Despite being queen, Elizabeth has no executive power in the country, as this function is exercised by the prime minister, the head of government.
Her figure is quite symbolic in England and most English people regard and admire her.
On April 9, 2021, her husband Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, dies.