Timelines to Visualize History

A Project by the Department of Medieval English Literature and Historical Linguistics, University of Düsseldorf

Overview for "Kings + Rulers"

Begin End Event Description Keywords
600 850

Heptarchy

From the 7th to the 9th century, there was no political unity in England and the changing overlordship divided the land in to seven kingdoms. These kingdoms were Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, Essex, Wessex, Sussex and Kent.
History, Old English Period, Political, Kings + Rulers
827 871

Early Anglo-Saxon Kings

King Egbert of Wessex was the first king to expand his territories beyond his own kingdom. He was later succeeded by his son Æthelwulf, whose four sons became the following kings, the fourth of which was Alfred the Great.
History, Kings + Rulers, Old English Period, Political
871 899

Alfred the Great

Alfred was the so-called first King of England, accepted by all the English that had not submitted to the Vikings. He defeated the Vikings multiple times and made a treaty with them to establish the Danelaw. Alfred's kingship extended beyond mere military leadership; his non-military achievements include his initiative to restore Latin learning and education in England.
Old English Period, Political, Religious, Standardisation, Vikings, Danelaw, Kings + Rulers, History
899 924

Edward the Elder

Alfred's first successor was his son Edward the Elder. He was a West-Saxon king who was also acknowledged as overlord in Mercia, whose nobility cherished a tradition of some independence. He began to expand in 917, and at the end of the year 918, he had brought the whole of England south of the river Humber under his control, and in 920 the kings of York, Scotland and Strathclyde submitted to Edward, so that the West-Saxon rule had been extended further north. Edward the Elder died in 924 and was succeeded by his son Athelstan.
Danelaw, Old English Period, Political, Kings + Rulers, History
924 939

Athelstan

Athelstan's reign was characterized by his attempts to secure English control over the north; on the one hand, he arranged Anglo-Scandinavian marriages in order to support peaceful relationships with the north, on the other hand, he won decisive battles, as in 937 at Brunanburh when, together with his brother Edmund, he stopped a combined Scottish-Viking army. Athelstan died in 939 and was succeeded by his younger brother Edmund.
History, Danelaw, Old English Period, Political, Kings + Rulers
939 955

Edmund and Eadred

Athelstan died in 939 and was succeeded by his younger brother Edmund. Edmund's reign (939-946) was a time of continued conflicts in the north, and of changing military fortune. Edmund was succeeded by his brother Eadred in 946, who at first was acknowledged in the Anglo-Scandinavian areas and at the end of Eadred's reign, in 955, the north was under English control again.
History, Danelaw, Old English Period, Political, Kings + Rulers
959 975

King Edgar and the Benedictine Revival

King Edgar's most prominent achievement in non-military activities was his massive support of the revival of monastic life in England. He installed the three leading reformers Dunstan, Æthelwold and Oswald, increased the number of reformed monasteries, expelled secular clerics and replaced them with reformed monks and abbots. It re-inspired cultural life in late Anglo-Saxon England and lead to a revival of education in Latin and English.
Old English Period, Political, Religious, Kings + Rulers, Standardisation, History
978 1016

Æthelred and the Return of the Vikings

Æthelred's long reign is usually regarded as an unlucky one. He struggled with massive Viking raids, paying large amounts of tribute, as well as with treachery and desertion due to his 'bad rule'. His nickname the Unræd (un-counsel) suggests that he was ill-advised by his counsellors. He fled to exile in 1013, when the Danish King Swein invaded the country, only to be asked to return and rule the English in 1014 after Swein died.
History, Old English Period, Political, Vikings, Kings + Rulers
1016 1035

Cnut

Cnut (also known as Canute or Knútr) was the son of Swein, who briefly ruled England during Æthelred's exile. During most of his reign, Cnut also more or less controlled Denmark and, less effectively, Norway, but he was fully accepted as king of England and did not suppress the conquered country. He married Æthelred's widow Emma and also continued a policy of supporting the church. When Cnut died in 1035, his son Harold inherited the throne. When Harold died in 1040, his brother Harthacnut became king, but then died in 1042.
History, Old English Period, Vikings, Kings + Rulers, Political
1035 1042

Harold and Harthacnut

When Cnut died in 1035, he left behind two sons by two different wives, each one favored for the throne by a party with an eye on their own interests. One claimant was Harthacnut, by then king of Denmark, the other was Harold. Since Harthacnut was engaged in conflicts in Norway, Harold was acknowledged as king by 1037. However, when he died in 1041, Harthacnut succeeded to the throne and reigned until his death in 1042.
History, Old English Period, Political, Kings + Rulers, Vikings
1042 1066

Edward the Confessor

Edward was Harthacnuts half brother and the son of Æthelred and Emma. He was made king in 1042. He had spent most of his life in exile in Normandy, so his relationship to Normandy was closer than to either Denmark or England. A long-lasting conflict between Edward and the family of Godwin, the earl of Wessex, characterised Edward's reign in the 1050s and early 1060s. He died heirless as the last Anglo-Saxon king, a situation that led to the Norman Conquest. He was a very religious king, which earned him the title the Confessor.
History, Old English Period, Political, Kings + Rulers, Norman Conquest
1066 1089

William I (the Conqueror)

William was the first Norman king of England. His predecessor Edward the Confessor was his first cousin once removed and had maintained a close relationship to William, having promised the throne to William during his stays in Normandy and making William's claim to the throne well-founded. William became king of England after the Norman Conquest. During his reign, William gave orders to compile a great survey of all the landed possessions in England to strengthen his authority.
History, Middle English Period, Kings + Rulers, Norman Conquest, Political
1087 1100

William II

While the eldest son of William I, Robert Curthose, inherited Normandy, England went to the third in line – William II, after the death of his elder brother and second-in-line Richard. William II did not really extend his dominion, but still managed to secure Cumberland and Westmoreland and defeated the King Malcolm III of Scotland in 1091. William II died under questionable circumstances being hit by an arrow on a hunting trip, supposedly by of one of his own men.
History, Kings + Rulers, Middle English Period, Political
1100 1135

Henry I

Henry Beauclerc was crowned Henry I after the death of his brother William II. His eldest brother Robert contested his reign over England, but Henry defeated him at the Battle of Tinchebray and imprisoned him for the rest of his life. His only legitimate son died in 1120 and Henry I declared his daughter, Matilda, his heir. When Henry died of illness in 1135, Stephen of Blois succeeded him, leading to a long civil war with Matilda which brought great misery and devastation to the country.
History, Kings + Rulers, Middle English Period, Political
1102 1167

Empress Matilda

As only heir to Henry I, Matilda was supposed to inherit her father's throne after his death. But since she was female and, above all, married to the count of Anjou, she was not appealing to the Normans, who favored her cousin Stephen of Blois instead of her. This conflict led to a long civil war between them and only ended after Stephen agreed to make Matilda's son Henry II his successor.
History, Kings + Rulers, Middle English Period, Political
1122 1204

Eleanor of Aquitaine

Eleanor of Aquitaine married Henry II out of love in 1154, after having previously been married to the king of France. She brought new territories into the marriage, making Henry II's realm the largest ever ruled by an English king to date. She is also known for her love of culture; she founded her own literary court where she surrounded herself with troubadours and artists from her southern territories. Under her patronage, the ideals and codes of courtly love were promoted in literature.
History, Middle English Period, Political, Kings + Rulers
1135 1154

Stephen of Blois

Stephen of Blois, the son of William the Conqueror's daughter, claimed the throne of England in 1135. He was supported by the citizens of London, his brother the Bishop of Winchester and the Bishop Roger of Salisbury despite having taken an oath of fealty to Henry I's daughter Matilda. This led to a long civil war which brought great misery and devastation to the country.
History, Middle English Period, Political, Kings + Rulers
1154 1189

Henry II

Henry II (b. 1133) was one of the most powerful rulers in western Europe at the time and was married to Eleanor of Aquitaine. After King Stephen had recognised him as his heir, he eventually became king of England in 1154. He succeeded peacefully to the throne, where he quickly restored the powers of the monarchy and reclaimed royal rights as they had been before Stephen's reign. He is also famous for his friendship with Thomas Becket.
History, Middle English Period, Kings + Rulers
1189 1199

Richard I

Richard I rebelled against his father Henry II and overthrew him with the help of the French king Philip II. While Richard participated in the third crusade, he left his throne to his brother John Lackland who then conspired against him with his former ally Philip II. When he returned home, he reconciled with his brother and went to war against France. Winning many decisive battles during the crusade and being pious and righteous earned him the famous title of Cœur de Lion - the lionhearted.
History, Middle English Period, Political, Religious, Kings + Rulers
1199 1216

John Lackland

King John's reign is seen as the darkest period in medieval English history. His loss of Normandy in 1204 and his excommunication by the pope in 1209 led to a serious rebellion of the nobility in 1214. Eventually John had to sign the Magna Carta, acknowledging the constitutional framework of his father Henry II.
History, Middle English Period, Political, Kings + Rulers
1216 1272

Henry III

Henry III was the eldest son of John and succeeded his father when he was only nine years old. He governed the land with the help of various councellors. During the Barons' War, he and his son Edward were taken captive, until his son was able to escape and free him. Henry III was supposedly a very pious ruler, having named his son Edward after Edward the Confessor.
Middle English Period, Kings + Rulers, History
1272 1307

Edward I

During the Baron's War, Edward supported Simon de Montfort before changing sides in favor of his father, Henry III. He defeated Montfort in battle, restoring royal power. He succeeded his father in 1272 and later reformed feudal land law and legislation in favor of the Crown. Wars in France and Scotland mark Edward I's reign. He attacked France in 1297, but had to return due to William Wallaces rebellion. Never being able to fully conquer Scotland, Edward died in 1307, leaving the throne to his son, Edward II.
History, Middle English Period, Political, Kings + Rulers
1307 1327

Edward II

Edward was a king of England whose reign was marked by conflict with the nobles until he was eventually overthrown by his wife in favour of his son. He had a very close and controversial relationship with a man called Piers Gaveston, and it is rumored that this was the primary reason for his disposal.
History, Middle English Period, Kings + Rulers, Political
1327 1377

Edward III

Being the nephew of the French king Charles IV on his mother's side, Edward III saw himself as his legitimate heir. When his claimed was denied, it led to renewed struggles between the English and French and when Philip VI seized Guienne, Edward declared himself King of France and went to war. Winning the famous Battle of Sluys and Battle of Crécy, Edward proved himself to be a capable military leader, adding large territories in France to the English Crown.
History, 100 Years War, Kings + Rulers, Middle English Period, Political
1330 1376

Edward the Black Prince

Edward the Black Prince, also Edward of Woodstock (after his birthplace), was the eldest son of Edward III and the first English prince to not become king, since he died a year before his father. He was an exceptional military leader, who proved himself during the Battles of Crécy and Poitiers, and a founding Knight of the Garter. He was succeeded by his son Richard II.
History, 100 Years War, Middle English Period, Political, Kings + Rulers
1340 1399

John of Gaunt

John of Gaunt was the third of Edward III's five surviving sons. By marriage to Blanche of Lancaster in 1359, he became Duke of Lancaster, which made him the most powerful nobleman of the realm. When the king fell ill, Gaunt ruled the country in his stead. He was a shrewd statesman, but his unorthodox methods and inability to compromise antagonized the Church and the Commons. Many suspected that he was aiming for the crown, but they were proved wrong when Gaunt stood faithfully to his young nephew King Richard II.
History, Middle English Period, Political, Kings + Rulers, 100 Years War
1377 1399

Richard II

At the age of only 10, Richard inherited the throne after the death of his father Edward the Black Prince, who was the eldest son of Edward III. Richard's reign was marked by a series of changing counsellors, the Peasants' Revolt and an attempt to take over his control by a group of aristocrats known as the Lords Appellant. Later he was overthrown by his exiled cousin, Henry IV, son of John of Gaunt, and died in his captivity in 1400.
History, 100 Years War, Middle English Period, Kings + Rulers
1399 1413

Henry IV

Henry was the son of John of Gaunt, fourth son of Edward III. After his father's death, Henry's cousin Richard II denied him all inheritance and exiled him. He returned with the also exiled former Archbishop Thomas Arundel and began a campaign to reclaim not only his patrimony, but later on also the English throne, where he may have become the first king after the Norman Conquest whose mother tongue was English rather than French. His reign was marked by series of plots against him and he died of some unknown illness in 1413.
History, 100 Years War, Middle English Period, Kings + Rulers
1413 1422

Henry V

Twelve years before the truce with France was intended to end, Henry V resumed the 100 Years' War. He won the famous Battle of Agincourt and took Rouen and Paris, controlling all of France north of the Loire. With the peace treaty of 1420, Charles VI of France recognized Henry V as his heir and regent and married him to his daughter, Catherine of Valois. Henry died unexpectedly at Vincennes, fighting the French and thus left his cross-channel kingdom to his one-year-old son Henry VI.
100 Years War, Middle English Period, Kings + Rulers, History
1421 1461

Henry VI

Henry VI inherited the throne when he was only a year old. He ruled from 1422 to 1461 and again from 1470 to 1471. By marrying Margaret of Anjou, he hoped to achieve peace, but France resumed the 100 Years' War and by 1453 had regained nearly all the territories they had lost. This is said to be one of the main reasons (next to Henry's mental illness) for the breakout of the Wars of the Roses, during which Edward IV defeated and imprisoned Henry VI and claimed the throne in 1461.
History, 100 Years War, Middle English Period, Political, Kings + Rulers, Wars of the Roses
1461 1483

Edward IV

Edward IV, being the great-grandson to Endmud Langley, the fourth son of Edward III, was one of the main protagonists of the Wars of the Roses on the York side. He defeated Henry VI and his wife Queen Margaret and imprisoned him in the Tower of London, where he later died - or was probably murdered. Until his death in 1483, Edward's rule was firmly established and his kingdom prospered, with the first English printing press being established at Westminster by William Caxton.
History, Middle English Period, Political, Kings + Rulers, Wars of the Roses
1483 1485

Richard III

Richard was the younger brother of Edward IV. After Edward's death, Richard ursuped the throne and had himself crowned as Richard III after disposing of the legitimate heir. Richard is one of the main protagonists of the Wars of the Roses. At the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, he lost his life and his kingdom against Henry VII of the Tudor dynasty, who was supported by the Lancastrians.
History, Middle English Period, Kings + Rulers, Wars of the Roses
1485 1509

Henry VII

Henry Tudor seized the throne from Richard III when he killed him, with the support of the Lancastrians, in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth. Henry finally united the Houses of York and Lancaster with his marriage to Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV. He restored stability after the Wars of the Roses, but the last years of his reign were overshadowed by his financial greed and legal struggles. Still, he reigned peacefully and was succeeded by his son Henry VIII after his death.
History, Kings + Rulers, Middle English Period, Political, Wars of the Roses