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If you start from 1066, the last direct line legitimate monarch was Richard III.
Then you have the Tudors with a fairly weak claim, then they handed it on to the Stuarts with an even weaker claim. Then it was swapped around a bunch of European families whose only real claim to the throne was that they weren't Catholics.
Since the Plantagenets' male line died out with Richard III in 1485, who would be the legitimate monarch if religion/politics hadn't gotten in the way?
If you accept that the Parliament of the United Kingdom currently has "sovereign and uncontrollable authority in making, confirming, enlarging, restraining, abrogating, repealing, reviving, and expounding of laws, concerning matters of all possible denominations, ecclesiastical, or temporal, civil, military, maritime, or criminal… it can, in short, do every thing that is not naturally impossible", then I point you to the Act of Settlement 1701, which states that succession to the British throne will pass to the oldest surviving Protestant descendant of the Electress Sophia of Hanover (1630-1714).
That's the interpretation I go by, since I like the idea of Parliament being the ultimate source of sovereignty, picking monarchs and heads of state at its whim.
The question is based on the premise that the monarch of England is simply determined by applying a set of defined rules - i.e. legitimate, male line succession. As argued by others above, this has always in practice been combined with a degree of pragmatism (i.e. who is the best ruler) and even an element of democracy (as shown by the Act of Settlement) not to mention brute force. It's also highly debateable whether 1066 is the most appropriate starting point (why not King Alfred the Great?). However, ignoring those elements, I've had a go at applying the rules of succession to William the Conqueror's descendents below.
The somewhat surprising conclusion is notwithstanding the various immediate breaks in succession, the lines tend back to the line that had the throne, largely due to judicious use of marriage, imprisonment and execution! The only exception is the Jacobite claim, which is technically with Franz, Duke of Bavaria, although this line has never claimed the throne of England.
Here is the full list, with the dates that the people would have technically claimed the throne:
William the Conqueror - 1066-1087
Robert Curthose of Normandy - 1087-1134
Henry Beauclerc - 1134-1135
Matilda of England - 1135-1167
Henry Plantagenet - 1167-1189
Richard the Lionheart - 1189-1199
Arthur of Brittany - 1199-1202
Eleanor of Brittany - 1202-1241
Henry of Winchester (III of England) - 1241-1272
Edward Longshanks (I of England) - 1272-1307
Edward of Caernarfon (II of England) - 1307-1327
Edward III - 1327-1377
Richard II - 1377-1400
Edmund Mortimer - 1400-1425
Richard of York - 1425-1460
Edward IV - 1460-1483
Edward V - 1483-1483 (assuming we ignore the fact that parliament declared him illegitimate?)
Elizabeth of York - 1483-1503
Henry VIII - 1503-1547
Edward VI - 1547-1553
Mary I - 1553-1558
Elizabeth I - 1558-1603
James I - 1603-1625
Charles I - 1625-1649
Charles II - 1649-1685
James II - 1685-1701
For the following line, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacobite_succession
James Stuart (Old Pretender) - 1701-1766
Bonnie Prince Charlie - 1766-1788
Henry Benedict Stuart - 1788-1807
Charles Emmanuel IV of Sardinia - 1807-1819
Victor Emmanuel I of Sardinia - 1819-1824
Maria Beatrice of Savoy - 1824-1840
Francis V Duke of Modena - 1840-1875
Maria Theresia of Austria-Este - 1875-1919
Rupprecht of Bavaria - 1919-1955
Albreacht of Bavaria - 1955-1996
Franz Duke of Bavaria - 1996-present.
I think the problem lies in the "should" of your question - by what criteria? And Richard III actually usurped the throne from his nephews - the "Princes in the Tower" - whether he had them murdered or not, so can hardly be "the last line legitimate" monarch, as you state.
IF you believe in a divinely-ordained right of succession, whereby the Crown passes to the eldest son, or daughter in default of sons, then no, Elizabeth II is almost certainly not the "rightful" sovereign. But being the legitimate heir to a king/queen does not guarantee fitness for the office, and there have always been brothers/uncles/cousins in the wings thinking "I could do a better job!" - and often did!
Whilst the current line of succession was largely set in stone by the Act of Settlement, settling it on the Electress Sophia and her Protestant successors, this was a continuation of the principle set by the 1688 Revolution, whereby two "legitimate" claimants - James II and his infant son - were passed over for candidates more acceptable to Parliament. Mary II, with a father and brother living, had a weak claim to the throne; her husband William had an even weaker one, but Parliament implicitly assumed the right to choose the sovereign, and that only conditionally upon their acceptance of the Bill of Rights 1689. From a legitimacy point of view, it is interesting that many Tories wanted to offer the Crown to Mary alone, as the next heir, if her brother was illegitimate; William had no intention of being Prince Consort, and Mary herself, as a dutiful wife, refused to accept the Crown for herself alone. But it marks a seismic shift in the balance of power between Crown and Parliament; henceforth, no sovereign could rule without the support of Parliament. A more modern example of this is shown by Edward VIII/the Duke of Windsor, when his determination to marry a (foreign) double divorcée was unacceptable to the politicians of the day, and he was forced to abdicate.
So, I am sorry, but in a sense I find the question meaningless - I suppose the only answer is - the person who people and Parliament accept which is, at present, Elizabeth II.
What to expect when Queen Elizabeth II dies
There's nothing in life as sure as death and taxes, and so we must face the fact that Queen Elizabeth II will eventually die. But, as the word's longest-reigning monarch, there's an entire generation of people who have never known life without her. But what will actually happen when she dies? What protocol is followed when a reigning monarch dies?
Well, firstly the nation will go into shock. As royal biographer, Penny Juror explains, her death will be a "traumatic" event for Britain.
"The Queen is such a tremendously popular figure and during the course of her reign, so much has changed so dramatically," Juror told Town & Country. "There's not an aspect of life that hasn't changed, but the one constant in the midst of this has been the Queen, the rock-solid thing we can hang on to."
But before the general public becomes aware that the Queen has passed, several things have to happen behind the scenes.
circa 1930: Queen Elizabeth, Queen Consort to King George VI with Princesses Elizabeth (left) and Margaret Rose (1930 - 2002). (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Prince Harry BOMBSHELL: Shock claim 'Harry will be KING' in Nostradamus prophecyLink copied
Nostradamus predicts Prince Harry will 'take the throne' next
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Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, is currently the sixth in line to the throne but his fortune could turn in the near future. According to a prophecy made by the French mystic and apothecary Michel de Nostradamus, the 34-year-old Prince will be crowned King by a court order. The bizarre claim was made by YouTube channel 2 Minute Facts, which discussed Nostradamus&rsquo prophecies about the Royal Family. The French mystic is widely believed to have predicted a range of future events with pinpoint accuracy in the 16th century.
Nostradamus&rsquo supporters claim he correctly foretold the rise of Adolf Hitler, the outbreak of World War 2 and the Great Fire of London in 1666.
And if the latest theory is true, Harry will sidestep his father the Prince of Wales and brother Prince William as the next King of Britain.
The conspiracy video about Harry states: &ldquoAdding to the satchel of prophecies is the prophecy of a new King on the throne. Wondering who this might be?
&ldquoWell, opening the doors of suspense, Prince Henry, the youngest son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana is supposed to be the next King sitting on the throne of Hales.
&ldquoGoing back to the memory lane, we see Prince Henry to be least proficient and capable of the throne but when talking of Nostradamus prophecies, the youngest heir will be taking the throne by the order of the court.&rdquo
Prince Harry prophecy: Nostradamus supposedly predicted Prince Harry's coronation (Image: GETTY)
The supposed prophecy states Harry&rsquos coronation will be met with scepticism and rejection but Harry&rsquos charm will win over the &ldquolove of his people&rdquo.
Being the sixth in line to the throne, Harry&rsquos odds of becoming King are incredibly low.
Prince Charles is the first in the order of royal succession, followed by his oldest son Prince William and William&rsquos three children &ndash Prince George, 5, Princess Charlotte, 3, and the seven-month-old Prince Louis.
And the news might come a burden to Harry who once suggested not a single member of the British monarchy truly wants to be crowned King or Queen.
He said: &ldquoIs there anyone in the Royal Family who wants to be King or Queen? I don&rsquot think so, but we will carry out our duties at the right time.&rdquo
Prince Henry, the youngest son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana is supposed to be the next King
2 Minute Facts
However, another Nostradamus prophecy suggests neither Harry or Prince Charles will be crowned before the monarchy is dissolved.
In his written works, Century 8 Quatrain 97, Nostradamus spoke of &ldquogreat powers&rdquo changing and a &ldquoKingdom growing no more&rdquo.
Online conspiracy theorists have suggested the line refers to the monarchy being dissolved.
Nostradamus was a 16th century prophet who many believed could predict the future (Image: GETTY)
Prince Harry 'must have felt abandoned' says Paul Burrell
A post shared by user Mercurio on conspiracy forum Above Top Secret, reads: &ldquoAt the end of the war the great powers change
&ldquoNear the shore three beautiful children are born.
&ldquoRuin to the people when they are of age
&ldquoTo change that country's Kingdom and see it grow no more.
Prince Harry is currently the sixth in line to the throne (Image: GETTY)
&ldquoThe three children refers to Prince William, Prince Henry and Princess Beatrice.
&ldquoPrince William was in fact born seven days after the end of the Falklands war.
"This predicts the end of the British monarchy and the beginning of a British republic happening very soon &ndash William may never get to become King.&rdquo
Sceptics, however, point out Nostradamus&rsquo cryptic passages are too vague to be considered genuine accounts of the future.
Brian Dunning, a science writer and creator of the Skeptoid Podcast, said: &ldquoNostradamus' writings are exploited in a number of fallacious ways.
&ldquoAmbiguous and wrong translations, &lsquocreative&rsquo interpretations, hoax writings, fictional accounts, and the breaking of non-existent codes within his quatrains all contribute to a vast body of work, all of it wrong, and many times the size of everything Nostradamus ever actually wrote.&rdquo
Who Is Really in Charge of Deciding the Next King or Queen?
When it comes to the British royal family, we&rsquod like to consider ourselves experts (or at least well-versed), especially in regards to the line of succession.
Sure, we know Queen Elizabeth currently holds the title and Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince George are the next in line to eventually sit on the throne. But is descent the only thing that determines the next king or queen? Well, apparently not.
After combing through a lot of royal jargon on the official website of the royal family, we learned that the British Parliament also plays a major role.
According to the site, &ldquoThe succession to the throne is regulated not only through descent, but also by Parliamentary statute.&rdquo Thanks to something called the Act of Settlement, succession to the throne can be regulated by Parliament, and a Sovereign can be deprived of his/her title through misgovernment. This pretty much means that if the next in line to inherit the throne does something the government really doesn't like, Parliament can take away their title and pass the monarchy along to someone else.
Although rare, this kind of thing has happened in the past. Take, for example, when Parliament appointed James II&rsquos daughter Mary and her husband William to king and queen instead of his young son.
There are also a handful of conditions that must be met to become the reigning monarch. For example, being a Roman Catholic is a &ldquono no.&rdquo In addition, the Sovereign must also be in communion with the Church of England and &ldquouphold the Protestant succession&rdquo (aka keep the long line of Protestant rulers going).
So, while the LOS is important, it isn&rsquot always necessarily enough.
Queen Elizabeth II is NOT the Queen of England – is it so hard to get it right?
I am a bit of a stickler for correct usage of styles and titles. So it is a bit of a pet peeve of mine when these are used improperly. The main one that bugs me is calling Elizabeth II, Queen of England. That bothers me because “Queen of England” is not her correct title! Her correct title, simplified here, is Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. England has not been a separate sovereign state since 1707.
Here is a little historical background on the issue. For centuries England and Scotland were separate sovereign kingdoms each with their own monarch. There was not always peace between the two states and England constantly tried to keep Scotland subdued. Edward I (1272-1307) is not known as the Hammer of the Scots for nothing! The Kingdoms of England and Scotland remained separate until 1603. Queen Elizabeth I of England died without issue and her closest relative that had a claim to the throne was her cousin King James VI of Scotland (1567-1625).
The accession of the Scottish king on the English throne did not politically unite the two nations. Both kingdoms were ruled by James but remained individual sovereign states that retained their own parliaments and laws. Although James liked to consider himself as the King of Great Britain this title had no legal barring. From 1603 until 1707 (excluding the Commonwealth period) the title of the monarch was King or Queen of England and Scotland and Ireland (they also called themselves the Kings of France but that is another story).
In 1707 came the Act of Union uniting the Parliaments of England and Scotland creating the new nation of Great Britain. England and Scotland ceased to be independent sovereign states and were then, and now, considered separate states within the union. The title of the monarch changed accordingly and the titles of King or Queen of England and Scotland passed into history. Anne was Queen of England and Scotland when the act was passed and her title was changed to Queen of Great Britain.
- Anne – Queen of Great Britain
The title remained King or Queen of Great Britain for 93 years when the nation expanded once more. Ireland was included in the political union with Great Britain and the new state became the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. George III (1760-1820) was the monarch at the time and his title changed accordingly. From 1714 to 1837 The British monarch was also Electors and then Kings of Hanover and although their Hanoverian titles were listed among their British title, Britain and Hanover were ruled separately and were not politically unified.
In 1920 in the reign of King George V (1910-1936) a large portion of Ireland was given its independence and only the northern counties remained united with Britain. From that time until the present the title of the monarch has been King or Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Now having said my rant and given the historical background on the evolution of the title of the British monarch I must be honest and say that I do miss the traditional titles of King or Queen of England and King or Queen of Scotland. Those are in the past unless devolution comes to the UK and England and Scotland becomes independent once again. If that does happen I think we would see a return to how things were prior to 1707 when both England and Scotland shared the same monarch.
The horniest kings of England
King Charles II was the first king to use condoms while King Edward VII was said to have at least four women a week for 50 years.
Were the Kings addicted to sex? Or were they just doing what kings are supposed to do.
Were the Kings addicted to sex? Or were they just doing what kings are supposed to do?
King Charles II cemented his reputation as the ultimate royal playboy when he fell for English actress Nell Gwyn in 1669. Source:News Corp Australia
They were two of the most “lustful” Kings of England and they worked well to cultivate their reputation as being the ultimate symbols of virility.
King Charles II was the first king to use condoms but still managed to have six children as well as at least 14 “official bastards” by seven different mothers.
King Edward VII was said to have at least three to four women a week for 50 years. And, with his specially designed sex chair he was easily able to entertain two ladies at once.
Neither King was terribly fussy and they certainly were not snobs happily taking their pickings from noblewomen and actresses as well as prostitutes.
It was 350 years ago this month that King Charles II cemented his reputation as the ultimate royal playboy when he fell for English actress Nell Gwyn in 1669, even though he was married and juggling at least six other mistresses.
But were the Kings addicted to sex? Or were they just doing what kings are supposed to do? Let’s take a look at the monarchs who set the scene for a risqué court where hedonism was the name of the game.
King Charles II of England was the first king to use condoms but still managed to have six children. Source:News Limited
Ruling England from 1660 until his death in 1685, King Charles II was famously nicknamed “Old Rowley” in honour of an old racehorse that became a famous stud stallion. He was also known as the “Merry Monarch” and seems to have truly lived up to his name when it came to the pursuit of women.
There was a lot going on during the King’s rule the plague, the great fire of London to name just two.
But Charles’ priorities were elsewhere.
Courtier John Evelyn said Charles would have been an excellent king “if he had been less addicted to women.”
There was no doubt Charles II loved sex and he had a succession of mistresses while he was married to Queen Catherine of Braganza. Charles was said to have a very low boredom threshold he loved to be entertained and he loved women.
One of his favourite mistresses was Barbara Villiers, who gave birth to six of his children which he accepted as his own. (Poor Queen Catherine never managed to produce an heir, suffering three miscarriages.) Charles had 14 children by his mistresses and agreed to support them all. However, he had doubts that Villiers’ youngest daughter was his because he𠆝 caught her in bed with the Duke of Marlborough.
Unlike previous Kings, Charles really looked after his mistresses and admired them not only for their looks, but he was said to be attracted to their intellect as well as their capacity to gossip.
Two of his mistresses became duchesses in their own right Barbara Villiers became Duchess of Cleveland and Louise de Kerouaille became Duchess of Portsmouth. It was a move that was a far cry from any of his predecessors who tended to toss their mistresses aside once a fresh woman was on the scene.
Barbara Palmer (née Villiers) Duchess of Cleveland, with her son, Charles Fitzroy, as the Virgin and Child By Sir Peter Lely, c. 1664 © National Portrait Gallery, London Source:Supplied
Associate Professor Clare Monagle from Macquarie University’s Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations told news.com.au virility was seen as a sign of a good king.
“The rampant womanising and being able to impregnate them was a way to prove your virility and masculinity,” Ms Monagle said.
“One thing we assume is that people were more moral or religious back then. And they were in some ways but the relationship between the idea of a king as a warrior and a strong man was interwoven and the idea of ‘taking a woman’ was part of the job description.”
“It was the cost of doing business, and the king would have quite enjoyed having that reputation of virility.”
“The Kings were expected to be robust because they bore the security of the crown in their body, so they were a metaphor for the whole body politic, so to have a robust virile, masculine king is a great comfort for everyone.”
1863: Bertie, Prince of Wales and his bride, Princess Alexandra of Denmark. King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. Source:Supplied
King Edward VII carried a variety of nicknames that reflected his personality. His family called him rtie,” a shortened version of his first name Albert. His friends liked to call him “Tum Tum” because he was overweight, but the eldest son of Queen Victoria was more widely known as 𠇍irty Bertie” and ward the Caresser” due to his innumerable sexual dalliances and countless mistresses.
Edward VII ruled England from 1901 until his death in 1910, marrying Princess Alexandra of Denmark in 1863 when she was 19 and Edward was 21 (she was fifth on the list of women deemed a suitable match.)
“She is my brood mare,” he once said.
The couple went on to have six children and were said to be relatively happy but whatever happiness they might have enjoyed did nothing to stop the King from being a rampant skirt chaser.
Lord Randolph Churchill and Lady Randolph Churchill (Jennie Jerome) in Paris, 1874 by Georges Penabert. Source:Supplied
1875: King Edward VII, then Prince of Wales, dressed in a cavalry uniform. Source:News Corp Australia
Edward VII's (Bertie's) sex chair. Picture: The Smithsonian Channel Source:Supplied
His mistresses included the beautiful actress Lilly Langtry, as well as Jennie Jerome (who later became the mother of Winston Churchill). His last “official” mistress was Alice Keppel, whom he first met in 1898. On the King’s deathbed in 1910 he had written instruction for his staff to make sure she was allowed to visit him.
Interestingly, Keppel was the Great Grandmother of Camilla Parker Bowles, the mistress and wife of the current Prince of Wales (Edward’s great-great grandson).
Sexual stories of the Playboy King
Edward had a “sex chair” designed by the French furniture manufacturer Soubrier. It allowed the king to have sex with two women at the same time. Looking at the chair today, it’s not that simple to work out exactly how the thing functioned although we can safely assume that the King had it all sorted.
Alice Keppel, mistress of King Edward VII. Pic Undated. P/ Historical Source:News Corp Australia
When a party was held at the palace, Edward and his friends would wait until the women had retired to their bedrooms. Then, they𠆝 wait until the lights were out, creep down the corridors looking for the woman they wanted to spend the night with and simply let themselves into the room of their choice.
Whether consent played a part in this was anybody’s guess but it’s believed the palace maids would lend a hand and leave a note of some sort outside the room of each woman. Just to make it easier for them to find the “lucky lady.”
AN INSATIABLE SEXUAL APPETITE
1894. Queen Victoria with her oldest son, the future King Edward VII, and her grandson, the future King George V, at the christening of her great-grandson, the future King Edward VIII. Source:News Limited
From the time he lost his virginity at the age of 19, King Edward was said to have had sex with at least four women a week until his death at the age of 69. Nobody knows the real figure, but some historians claim the King could possibly have slept with between 15,000 and 18,000 women, allowing for the weeks when he was able to have sex with six or seven women in one week.
Let’s not forget the King also had his “special chair, 𠇊llowing for sex with two women at once.
DESTROYING THE EVIDENCE
There were rumours the King had fathered multiple illegitimate children as a result of multiple affairs, but because Edward never officially acknowledged any illegitimate children it’s been impossible to trace any of them.
The King was said to be very diligent at destroying evidence and ensuring his affairs remained secretive. Historians believe he had hundreds of letters from women burned and even his diaries are lacking in personal information, so we can only guess as to how many of his descendants are scattered around the world.
Do we really believe ward the Caresser” slept with up to 18,000 women in his lifetime?
According to Clare Monagle, these figures might not be an exaggeration.
“Yes, it is quite possible. There’s also a chance some of them were actually spreading stories about how many women they were having. There’s a chance this was part of the cultivation of the myth, a PR tactic,” Monagle said.
𠇋ut we’ll never know for sure. We do know there were strong attempts to repress stories of illness. The courtiers were always trying to make sure that any stories about fallibility or frailty of the King didn’t get out. So there’s a chance they were also spreading stories about how much sex their King was getting on a daily basis too.”
Early undated photo of singer Lillie Langtry (1852-1929), nee Emilie Charlotte Le Breton, best remembered as mistress of Prince of Wales, Edward VII. Source:News Corp Australia
But it seems, in the case of King Edward VII, mistresses were only tolerated by the long-suffering wives up to a point. According to author of Edward VII: the Prince of Wales and the women he loved Catharine Arnold, when the King was on his deathbed, Queen Alexandra sent for his long-time mistress, Alice Keppel. It was said to be a bizarre scene.
The Queen hadn’t summoned Keppel because she wanted to do a good deed for her dying husband — apparently, she only invited Keppel into the palace because she was causing a ruckus banging on the gates and yelling for rtie”.
Once she was at the King’s bedside, he was drifting in and out of consciousness and didn’t recognise her.
Once she said her goodbyes, the Queen demanded, “get that woman out of here!”
LJ Charleston is a freelance historical writer. Continue the conversation @LJCharleston
Why Princess Elizabeth Was Almost Never Queen Elizabeth II at All
The Queen has broken a lot of records in her time as monarch. She has visited more countries than any other British King or Queen before her. She's the oldest monarch and the longest-reigning British monarch ever. So it's odd to think that she almost didn't become Queen at all.
Queen (or rather, Princess) Elizabeth was born on April 21, 1926 during the reign of her grandfather, George V. At the time, she was third in line to the throne behind her uncle, Prince Edward (the eldest son of George V), and her own father, Prince Albert (Edward's younger brother).
At this point, it was far too early to imagine Elizabeth would ever become Queen. Mostly because the heir apparent, Prince Edward, was still young enough that he was expected to marry and produce his own heir, but also because Prince Albert could still have produced a son. Had that happened, the boy would have taken the throne before Elizabeth, under the (since-altered) rules of succession, which placed male children before their sisters, regardless of birth order.
The birth of Prince Edward's child, whether male or female, would have shuffled both his brother and niece (Prince Albert and Princess Elizabeth) down the line of succession, putting them both further from the top job. Indeed, this is exactly what happened to the current Prince Harry when Prince George was born: he went from being third in line to the throne after his father and brother, to fourth after his newly inserted nephew. (And the births of Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis means he's now sixth in line.)
So barring any unfortunate tragedy, Princess Elizabeth was never expected to get much closer to being Queen than she was when she was born. For the first 10 years of her life, it seemed that she would remain a relatively minor royal. Her modern equivalents would be Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie of York, neither of whom are as well-known globally as their cousins, Princes William and Harry.
But something unexpected happened. When King George V died in 1936, Edward VIII took the throne—then renounced it less than a year later so that he could marry Wallis Simpson, a divorced American socialite, against the advice of the British government and the Church of England. Since Edward had no children at the time, his brother Albert ascended, choosing the regnal name George VI in honor of his late father. His daughter, 10-year-old Princess Elizabeth, was now the heir presumptive: first in line to the throne on the understanding that her father could still produce a son who would take the throne before her (and, for that matter, her younger sister Margaret, who was born in 1930).
But despite the possibility, that didn't happen. George VI produced no more children and died on February 6, 1952. His eldest daughter was crowned Queen Elizabeth II, defying the expectations of her birth to become one of Britain's most popular, well-regarded, and longest-reigning monarchs. Though to some constitutional scholars, she'll always be the Queen who almost wasn't.
Charles 1 st 1625-49
Charles Stewart was the wrong king during these turbulent religious years when his father, brother and the current MPs had all nearly been assassinated in the Catholic Gun Powder Plot. Neither Catholics nor the ultra “back to basics” Puritans were permitted to follow their preferred form of worship.
- married the Catholic French princess, sister of the French king who openly arranged for her own Catholic mass. Parliament were horrified.
- Secondly he appointed William Laud, a nearly Catholic religious thug as Archbishop of Canterbury in a supposedly Protestant England. This did not please parliament either.
- Thirdly following to views of his father he believed absolutely in the “Divine Right of Kings” which he took to mean that he was accountable to nobody other than God and hence he was not prepared to discuss the war taxes he needed or other issues with parliament.
This resulted in a deepening crisis between King and the now powerful English parliament climaxing in a civil war which parliament forces under Oliver Cromwell won and the beheading of King Charles for treason.
Charles reign ran concurrently with the “30 years war” in Europe 1618-1648 which was triggered by the people of Bohemia (Czech Republic) preferring Fredrick, the Protestant brother in law of Charles as King, rather than the Catholic Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand 2 nd as their ruler. This war, although mainly taking place in Germany, involved most European nations and reduced the population of many of them by as much as 50% and bankrupting them in the process.
Charles’ father James tried to avoid the battle but Charles was reluctantly involved both because of his sisters problems as the wife of Fredrick and because of his friend Buckingham who wanted a direct assault into the fray but was a useless general. This further split parliament from the King as firstly they did not like Buckingham and secondly suggested different and more profitable military aims which the King over ruled.
Chronological events in Charles’ reign
1600 Charles born in Fife, Scotland as the second son of James 1 st .
1603 Charles at 3 years old, could neither walk or talk.
1612 Charles’ elder brother Frederick a strapping and popular lad was killed in a swimming accident. The pathetic Charles was now next in line to the throne and his father schooled him in the arts of kingship particularly in their Divine Rights.
1613 Charles’ sister, 17 year old Elizabeth, who he adores leaves England to marry the protestant German prince Fredrick, Elector of Palatine
1619 30 Years War commences in Europe. Fredrick is made King of Bohemia (Western Czech Republic) which sparks the European 30 year religious Wars. Sister Elizabeth and brother in law Fredrick become fugitives.
1620 Charles at 20 was only 5 feet 3 inches tall and afflicted with a stammer but was well educated, a good horseman who loved hunting and as his fathers mental health declined he became more and more involved with ruling the country.
1624 England enters 30 years war and declares war on Catholic Spain in an attempt to weaken the Catholic armies in their battles with the Protestants Holland, Bohemia and the French Huguenots.
1625 King James, his father dies in March. To the horror of the country and parliament Charles marries the Catholic sister of the King of France, Henrietta Maria aged 15. Charles himself although nominally a Protestant prefers High Church with services very similar to the dreaded and outlawed Catholics. The English parliament has a high proportion of Puritans who also cannot freely worship in England so there is tension from the start.
1625 Charles calls his first parliament to raise taxes to continue the war with Spain. Parliament who are against war in Europe, refuse to give the King what he wants and under funded, the war missions are failures.
1626 Charles is crowned king but Henrietta Maria refuses to take part as a Catholic can’t attend a Protestant event. He needs friends and initially relies on “Steenie” (George Villiers, the Earl of Buckingham) one of his fathers apparently homosexual favourites. Buckingham steers Charles towards more anti Catholic campaigns in Europe.
Taxes need to be raised to support these wars so Charles calls his second parliament. To ensure he gets his money Charles immediately promotes any possible dissenters as sheriffs who then cannot vote. The rest of parliament see through this and refuse to proceed. Charles’ favourite, the unpopular Buckingham is impeached so Charles dissolves parliament and raises his money from forcing higher contributions from the “privileged kings” tax base.
1627 War is declared on France to enable Buckingham to rescue some persecuted Huguenots. It fails.
1628 Buckingham is assassinated mysteriously while preparing for another invasion of France.
Point to return to from the later section on Oliver Cromwell
Wentworth and Pym, two leading parliamentarians, in response to Charles’ cavalier method of ruling the country draw up some new rules of kingship.
- No man can be compelled to pay a loan, benevolence or tax without the consent of parliament.
- No person can be imprisoned without cause
- No person to be tried by a military court.
These “Petition of Rights” are seen as being second only in importance to Magna Carta. Note the improvement in Human rights. The King being very short of cash was forced to agree. At this point the crafty Sir Thomas Wentworth swapped allegiances and became the kings chief advisor along with the equally shrewd William Laud.
1629 Charles now commences total dictatorial rule, without calling parliament, for 11 years.
1633 Charles appoints William Laud, a High Churchman (close to Catholicasism) as Archbishop of Canterbury. Charles continues to raise taxes illegally.
Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Stafford is appointed Lord Deputy of Ireland where by 1640, 100,000 Scottish Presbyterians are resident in Northern Ireland.
1637 War with Scotland. Laud decrees that all Scotland must use the English Book of Common Prayer. This is an anathema to the Scots who are Presbyterians which is close to Puritanism. When Charles threatened to enforce the adoption of the English Prayer Book almost every man in Scotland signed a petition and an army of 16,000 men was assembled under Alexander Leslie to defend their rights.
1639 Charles formed an army of 20,000 to suppress these Scots but realising that he could not count on any of this English army to support him he was forced to sign a treaty with Leslie at Berwick on Tweed. The Scots were to be allowed to choose their on version of Christianity and settled on Presbyterianism rather than Episcopacy. (Elizabeth’s Church of England) This is called the First Bishops War.
1640 Being desperately short of money Charles was forced to call back parliament but it lasted only 3 weeks as MPs refused to discuss taxes with the king if he did not get rid of his two thugs Wentworth in Ireland and Archbishop Laud and re-engage with parliament.
In the mean time the Scots invaded England again (the Second Bishops War) and easily defeated Charles Armies in Northumberland and occupied Newcastle. Charles in his weakness could only get rid of the Scots by paying them £850 a day sufficient to maintain their standing army.
Charles now desperate called a “Great Council” similar to medieval Great Councils but even his cronies advised him to recall parliament and so he did. The so called “Long Parliament” lasted 20 years until 1660.
1640-42 For 2 years Parliament tried to negotiate with Charles a working relationship and rules and responsibilities between the two parties Parliament and King. But it was impossible to talk to a man who was convinced all his actions were guided by God. Wentworth continued with the colonisation of Ulster and Laud was not the man to favour peace between Catholics, Puritans and the Elizabethan Church of England. Eventually Parliament under the leadership of Pym supported by Cromwell and others impeached and arrested both Laud and Wentworth (the Earl of Stafford) and the King left London and set up his new power base in Oxford.
In Ireland the removal of Wentworth gave encouragement to the native Irish and the original Norman English settlers to attack Dublin but the plot was leaked. Instead these two parties attacked the settlers in Ulster and gleefully massacred some 30,000 Protestant farmers.
1642-49 Civil War
A 7 year period of war between the King’s followers called the Cavaliers because of their alleged superior horsemanship and Roundheads because of their short haircuts. The King with obvious Catholic leanings had the support of the Catholic French and the Catholic Irish. Parliament who enjoyed a Puritan majority had the support of the Presbyterian Scots.
The first battle was at Edgehill, Warwickshire in ‘43 and the last and 14 th was at Naseby, Northamptonshire in 1645 and decisively won by Parliament under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell who had taken it upon himself to study ilitary tactics, set up a standing army and train them. (The Model Army) Charles fled to his sanctuary at Oxford.
In 1646 Charles persuaded the Scots to invade northern England on his behalf but they were severely beaten by Cromwell who returned to London and clamoured for the King to be brought to justice. Cromwell had to exclude some 100 parliamentarians leaving only a “Rump” of 53 to get the vote for the Kings execution for crimes against his own kingdom. Charles was beheaded in January 1649. This was the first time in the history of England that a King had been tried in a court of law by his people. Charles’ French wife fled to Paris with three royal sons including the eldest Prince Charles, the next inline to the throne.
England was now to be ruled without a hereditary king but as a republic by a parliament. Oliver Cromwell was not initially the leader but only an elected parliamentarian and head of the cavalry division in the New Model Army.
- John Pym was the leader of the opposition to Charles
- Irish Uprising 1641 to1653 were started by hatred of Thomas Wentworth (Earl of Stafford) and brought under control by Oliver Cromwell.
- William Laud’s efforts to unify Scotland and Ireland under his version of C of E brought about the Bishops wars in Scotland and the Irish uprisings of 1641-50
- Laud also tried to unify the Churches in America. Laud was a friend of the King’s favourite Buckingham
- Laud wanted to return some of the Church land seized by Henry 8 th which obviously made landlords very nervous.
- Battle of Benburp in Ireland in 1646 (against the English) was financed by the Pope
- “Pride’s Purge” got rid of the Presbyterian supporters of Charles 1 st in the Long Parliament.
- Religion. Charles 1 st was a Hi Churchman his wife a Catholic his parliament was mainly Puritan with some Presbyterians and a few Catholics. England was more than 50% Protestant mainly C of E but the Nobles were generally Catholic as were the House of Lords. Scotland was mainly Presbyterian and Ireland was staunchly Catholic.
Who should be the king/queen of England? - History
A subject comes requiring your aid. Do you hear them out?
If it will contribute to our future, then yes.
Of course, my people are why I rule.
Only if it is of extreme importance.
You have captured a traitor. What do you do?
Throw them in a dungeon. For life.
Sophisticated Torture for information!
Let the people decide how they should die!
Kill him. With my bare hands.
Educate them of their treachery. Reform them.
You discover an "uninhabited continent". What must happen first?
Set up an advanced colony, shelter and protection are key.
Meet the locals - discover their culture and come to an understanding.
Assimilate the locals. They can join us or perish.
Time to celebrate! What type of party do you throw?
Huge, drunken debacle with pleeeeenty of eye candy!
Wine! Music! Dancing! A whirlwind of passion and color!
A ceremonious celebration, one of respect and valor!
A technical spectacle! Fireworks, pyrotechnics, the works!
A formal and lavish ball, beautifully orchestrated!
Iɽ throw one for my subjects, but would rather not attend.
You are to be married, but it is pre-arranged.
If it is expected of me, I'm sure I can learn to love them.
Are they hot? If so, bring ɾm on!
If it will help with expansion and wealth, so be it.
Sure, why not. I'll be off killing the enemy anyway.
Absolutely not. True love, or none at all.
Which of these animals would be on your royal seal?
What do you want your legacy to be?
And finally. Do you Conquer? or Prosper?
Conquer. Expansion is key to survival and political gain.
Prosper. Resources should be circulated at home, not abroad.
Stubborn and hot-headed, you are Henry VIII (1491 – 1547)! You're life is a train on a one-way track, and you're the sole conductor! Few things can stop you from accomplishing your goals, and you tend to either bring others with you or bowl right through them - depending on how attracted you are to them. After all, if you have a shortcoming - it is your flirtatious nature and weakness for physical beauty. Either way your will shall be done! King from 1509 to 1547, Henry VIII split the Church of England from Rome, leading to rise of Protestantism in England. He also managed so dissolve the monasteries.
Intuitive and progress-driven, you are Queen Victoria (1837-1901)! Yours is a mind fixated on the future and build for expansion. A true visionary, you put your active imagination and tendency to daydream to good use through practical applications. You're quite the rare mix of thoughtful and tech-savvy. Queen from (1837-1901), Victoria was the longest reigning monarch. During her reign, Britain was transformed into a modern industrial nation, and the British Empire spread across the globe.
Independent and pensive, you are Queen Elizabeth I (1533 – 1603). You're a solitary individual, but not of a malicious sort. You are completely content waiting for the right person to come along, and until then prefer your own thoughts to anyone not worth your time. Queen from (1558 to 1603), Elizabeth was known as the Virgin Queen,as she remained unmarried. Under Elizabeth’s reign she largely avoided the descent into religious strife. She also rallied her navy, before the famous defeat of the Spanish Armada when England looked vulnerable to invasion.
Chivalrous and charming, you are Richard I – The Lionheart (1189-1199)! A natural leader, you were born to rule - not just forced into it. Others flock to your magnetic personality, and are swooned by your genuine charm. You are not only a gifted leader, but one who leads by example, a rare feat. Richard I was a crusading King who gained fame for his chivalry, courage and indefatigable spirit. He earnt the respect of his great enemy Saladin through vast crusades, sweeping the entire continent of Europe.
Strategic and formidable, you are King Alfred (849 – 899)! A natural born warrior, you are always the first to act and have made a habit of coming out on top. Others respect you for your intellect, but would follow you regardless based simply on your physical prowess. (King- 871 to 899) Alfred was King of Wessex, but during his reign, he was able to unite different areas of England and move the country towards greater unity. He had a rare combination of being a formidable warrior – defeating the Vikings, and also being a scholarly and educated man.
Passionate and artistic, you are Catherine the Great (1729-1796)! You are an incredibly creative individual who values human expression above all else, and have a tendency to surround yourself with interesting and unique individuals. For you, art is not only a tool for expression but a necessity to human nature. Catherine was one of the greatest political leaders of the Eighteenth Century. Catherine the great was said to have played an important role in improving the lot of the Russian serfs. She placed great emphasis on the arts and helped to cement Russia as one of the dominant countries in Europe.
Will Prince Charles step aside and let Prince William become King?
At 72-years-old, Prince Charles is the longest-serving heir in UK history - having been first in line from the age of three.
When he takes the crown Prince Charles will become the oldest ever British monarch to take the throne.
Some royalists have argued that Prince Charles should step aside to allow Prince William to become King because he enjoys better approval ratings with the public based on a 2016 poll.
Prince Charles has faced controversy over his divorce from Princess Diana and his affair during their marriage with now-wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.
He has also been accused of “meddling” in politics by stating his opinion on issues like the environment and farming, alternative medicine and architecture in private letters to Government ministers.
In 1936, Edward VIII - the Queen's uncle - famously abdicated after less than a year on the throne so he could marry divorcee Wallis Simpson.