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Kings and Queens
Before 1066

Kings and Queens: England before 1066

England emerged from the Dark Ages during the 9th century, when the kings of Wessex led the Anglo–Saxon resistance to the Danish (Viking) invaders.

King of East Anglia, 855–869 – killed by the Danish invaders, popularly believed to be because he refused to renounce Christ – later considered to be the patron saint, but superseded by Edward the Confessor and eventually St. George Click to show or hide the answer

From this point on, the kings are listed in chronological order (starting with the kings of Wessex, before they united England as a single kingdom).

King of Wessex, 802–39: grandfather of Alfred the Great. Described in the Anglo–Saxon Chronicle as King of Britain, after defeating Wiglaf of Mercia (829) and receiving the submission of the King of Northumbria (830). (Wiglaf regained control of Mercia in 830) Click to show or hide the answer
Son of the bove, and his succeesor as King of Wessex (839–56); succeeded by four of his five sons (Æthelbald, Æthelburt, Æthelred, Alfred) in rapid succession (the eldest, Æthelstan, predeceased him) Click to show or hide the answer
Youngest of five sons of the above, three of whom ruled before him; succeeded Æthelred in 871, ruled until 899; first King of Wessex to style himself "King of the Anglo–Saxons" Click to show or hide the answer
Said to have invented a candle clock
Elder son of the above: succeeded him in 899, despite a challenge from his cousin Æthelwold, who had a strong claim as the son of Æthelred; succeeded by three of his sons (Æthelstan 924–40, Edmund I 939–46, Eadred 946–55) Click to show or hide the answer
Eldest son of the above, thus grandson of Alfred the Great: succeeded his father in 927; regarded as the first King of England, and one of the greatest Anglo–Saxon kings; never married, had no children, and was succeeded by his half–brother, Edmund Click for more information Click to show or hide the answer
Younger son of Edmund (see above), thus great–grandson of Alfred the Great: succeeded his elder brother Eadwig as King of All England in 959; crowned at Bath in 973; subsequently eight "tributary kings" rowed him up the Dee to Chester (from his palace nearby) and swore their allegiance. Father of the two below Click to show or hide the answer
Son of the above, murdered at Corfe Castle in 978; canonised in 1001 Click to show or hide the answer
Half–brother of the above, reigned from 978 to 1016: ordered the massacre of the Danes on St. Brice’s Day (13 November) 1002; deposed by the Danish king Sweyn in 1013, but recalled on Sweyn's death in 1014; sobriquet means "lacking counsel"; father of Edward the Confessor Click to show or hide the answer
First Danish king of England (1013–14): son of Harald Bluetooth, father of Canute. Deposed Æthelred in 1013, and was proclaimed king on Christmas Day, but died 40 days later (3 February 1014), allowing Æthelred to regain the throne with the support of the nobility against Cnut Click to show or hide the answer
Son of Æthelred the Unready, shared the throne with Canute from Æthelred’s death in April 1016 until his own death in November the same year Click to show or hide the answer
Son of Sweyn Forkbeard, father of Harold I (Harefoot); led the Danish invasions of England following the death of his father and the return of Æthelred the Unready (1014–16); ruled jointly with Edmund Ironside following Æthelred’s death in April 1016, and alone until 1035 following Edmund’s death in November 1016. Became King of Denmark in 1018, parts of Sweden in 1026, and Norway in 1028 Click to show or hide the answer
Son of Canute, succeeded him in 1035; succeeded in 1040 by his half–brother (also the son of Canute) Harthacanute; sobriquet refers to his fleetness of foot Click to show or hide the answer
Succeeded his half–brother Harold Harefoot in March 1040; died suddenly in June 1042, and was succeeded by Edward the Confessor (also his half–brother); the last Danish king of England Click to show or hide the answer
Son of Æthelred the Unready; ruled 1042–66, succeeded by Harold II Click for more information Click to show or hide the answer
Founded Westminster Abbey; died eight days after its consecration (28 December 1065), and was buried there
Canonised in 1161
Regarded as the patron saint of England, from the reign of Henry II (1133–89) until 1348 when he was replaced by St. George
Said (by Wikipedia) to still be the patron saint of difficult marriages, kings, and the English (sic) Royal Family
Son of Godwin, who had been made Earl of Wessex by Canute; known as Godwinson Click to show or hide the answer
Selected by the Witenagemot (Witan) to succeed Edward the Confessor following the latter's death in January 1066 (reportedly with Edward's blessing)
Probably the first to be crowned in Westminster Abbey (built by his predecessor)
Defeated his brother Tostig and Harald Hardrada, King of Norway, at Stamford Bridge, near York on 25 September 1066; but was defeated by William of Normandy at Hastings on 14 October, and died during the battle

For more details, you could try this page, entitled Kings and Queens of England & Britain, on the Historic UK website.

© Haydn Thompson 2017–21